Extreme weather linked to the climate crisis has displaced millions of minors in recent years, according to a new UN report.

According to the children’s charity Unicef, 43.1 million children and young people had to leave their homes at least temporarily between 2016 and 2021 due to floods, storms, droughts and forest fires. An estimate for the next 30 years also assumes that around 96 million minors could be displaced simply because of rivers overflowing their banks.

For the period 2016 to 2021, China and the Philippines were among the countries where the most children and young people had to flee from weather events. Relative to the total population, minors in small island states like Vanuatu were hit hardest by storms. Floods had the greatest impact in Somalia and South Sudan.

UNICEF director Catherine Russell complained that these fearful experiences could be particularly devastating for children and young people. “The escape may have saved their lives, but it is a very harrowing experience. As the effects of climate change become ever greater, climate-related refugee movements will also increase.” The knowledge is there to meet the escalating challenge, said Russell. “But we act far too slowly.”