In just a six-month period over the past year, climate disasters sent more than 10 million people fleeing from their homes, adding to trauma already levied by the pandemic. Now, the world’s largest international aid network is pleading for compassion, and for funds.
Out of the 12.6 million people displaced within their home countries between September and February, 10.3 million were forced out by climate disasters like wildfire and flooding, writes Common Dreams, citing a new report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). In some regions, the report notes, the displacement was driven by drought (such as in Afghanistan) or hunger (occurring in Mongolia after extreme winter conditions resulted in catastrophic loss of livestock).
The remaining 2.3 million fled in response to conflict and war.
Asia is seeing the worst of the climate-related displacement, said Helen Brunt, IFRC’s Asia Pacific migration and displacement coordinator. “These upheavals are taking a terrible toll on some of the poorest communities already reeling from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” People in The Philippines, for example, are still scrambling to recover from three ferocious cyclones that appeared one after the other last November, ultimately “leaving over three million people destitute.”
Such suffering demands an international response, Brunt said. “Greater action and urgent investment” are both needed, she added, beginning with support for local community response networks, including first responders.
While stressing the importance of community engagement and accountability, the IFRC report urges the strengthening of “national and branch level internal systems and capabilities,” as well as the ongoing pursuit of “humanitarian diplomacy, and multi-stakeholder partnerships and coordination,” writes Common Dreams. It also called for “durable solutions to displacement,” and for policy-makers to monitor populations for “slow onset” disasters as well as those that crash suddenly ashore.
The IFRC report comes a month after Refugees International issued a “policy roadmap” to President Biden and declared that “the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to lead on issues of climate change, migration, and displacement.” Common Dreams adds that recent analysis by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace projects that “ecological disasters and armed conflict could forcibly displace about 10% of humanity” by 2050.