Almost 10 million child displacements by weather related events in 2020, says the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK)

Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > Almost 10 million child displacements by weather related events in 2020, says the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK)



London, 25th May 2021 – Weather-related events led to 9.8 million child displacements in 2020 – which could be up to 26,800 children a day – according to new analysis from the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) released today.

Data from a new UNICEF UK report Futures at Risks: Protecting the Rights of Children on the Move in a Changing Climate* suggests that in 2020 alone there were 30.1 million new weather-related internal displacements.

Floods, droughts, tropical storms all have a major impact on children’s health and education and can force families to leave their homes involuntarily for their own safety and health. This puts children at risk of missing out on school and access to essential healthcare services.

Nadia, a 13-year-old girl, at Camp Gammou, in Niamey, Niger. Nadia and her family have been forced to move to the camp when their house was destroyed by flooding. Without a place to call home, Nadia was beginning to miss school and her grades suffered. Since living in Camp Gammou, Nadia has started attending classes in a UNICEF-constructed school. “I hope we will have a new house soon, but I’m happy I can continue to go to school. My dream is to become a doctor” Nadia said.

Climate change-related displacement and migration has several knock-on effects for children. Girls are especially at risk, facing challenges associated with gendered expectations of care, lack of safe access to facilities, economic disparities and challenges in accessing support for adolescent girls’ health. Children’s mental health is also suffering with levels of anxiety and trauma caused by climate related disasters rising.

Joanna Rea, Director of Advocacy at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), said: “No child should be forced to leave their home due to the impacts of climate change, but sadly this is the reality for thousands of children every day. The health and education of millions more children are likely to be affected as the climate crisis accelerates. The UK Government must use the opportunity of its COP26 Presidency this year to champion the rights of children on the move, galvanising widespread and ambitious action to address the challenges we know are coming. If not, the futures of millions of children will be at risk.”

Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) taking place in Glasgow, UK in November this year, UNICEF UK is calling on the UK Government to support children who have been forced to leave their homes due to the effects of climate change, by bringing together experts across the health, education, migration, and climate sectors to share knowledge, best practice and develop solution that minimise disruption to key services for children, such as education and health.

Levison Wood, UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter said that “Children are the leaders of tomorrow and in that respect, we must listen to them and take responsibility to build a more sustainable future for them. Climate action must be a priority for the world’s leaders.”

In the report, UNICEF UK suggests that the UK Government should support the rights and needs of displaced and migrating children in the context of climate change by:

  • facilitating cross-sectoral collaboration through the establishment of a technical facility on climate change-related displacement and migration and child rights.
  • addressing and limiting climate change by realising its commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and encourage other high-income countries to make a similar pledge at COP26.
  • supporting data and evidence collection through investments in data and evidence for children affected by climate change-related displacement and migration
  • raising awareness and championing children affected by climate change-related displacement and migration using the UK’s role as a leading international donor.


For more information, please contact:

Marco Carraro, 0207 375 6052,

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, 

Notes to Editors:

Full report available on request

*Using data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

Multimedia content available on request

Spokespeople available for interview

About UNICEF and the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK)

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters.

United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Registered Charity No. 1072612 (England & Wales), SC043677 (Scotland).

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