The total number of people affected by natural disasters has doubled over the past decade, with some 211 million hit every year, several UN and other agencies informed the UN climate change conference in Bonn on Monday, raising fears of “climate refugees” flooding rich countries.
This is almost five times the number affected by conflict within the same period.
More than 20 million have been displaced by climate-related sudden-onset disasters in 2008 alone, according to a new study by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Events, either extreme or slow-onset, comprise storms, droughts, floods or climate stress such as extremely hot periods.
“For the first time, we have a solid indication of the scale of forced displacement as a result of sudden-onset natural disasters in the context of climate change,”said NRC Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson.
“People migrate voluntarily with slow-onset events,”she said.
Sudden events are the direct cause of displacement and fleeing is the only course open to these victims.
The bulk of those affected will be within countries.
Rasmusson told HT that the largest number of such refugees would be in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh, both because of the high levels of poverty and population growth.