PETALING JAYA: Future generations of Malaysians should be prepared for climate-related disasters considering the growing number of displacements caused by the phenomenon, says a United Nations body.
In a report today, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said that its Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) recorded a total of 156,000 people displaced by floods, landslides, and storms in Malaysia last year – a sharp hike from the 129,000 recorded in 2021 and 24,000 in 2020. The IDMC also revealed that there were 354,000 climate-related internal displacements between 2016 and 2021 in Malaysia.
The figures were among those in a Unicef report titled “Children Displaced in a Changing Climate”, which is the first global analysis of the number of children driven from their homes between 2016 and 2021 due to floods, storms, droughts, and wildfires.
The report, which also looked at projections for the next 30 years, said climate scientists have predicted that about a quarter of Malaysia’s population will be displaced by 2030 because of climate change.
It further warned that children are at higher risk of injury, death and infections of vector-borne diseases during climate disasters.
According to Unicef, weather-related disasters caused a total of 43.1 million children to be displaced in 44 countries between 2016 and 2021, or approximately 20,000 child displacements a day.
“Climate change is a children’s rights issue. It robs an entire generation of their future,” Unicef’s representative to Malaysia, Robert Gass, said in a statement.
“With the right tools, resources, and support, they can act, advocate, and safeguard themselves and their communities from environmental harm.”
In the statement, Unicef said children and young people can be protected from the impacts of climate change-exacerbated disasters and displacements by ensuring that child-critical services such as education, healthcare and social protection are shock-responsive, portable, and inclusive.
It also said children and young people should be prioritised in disaster and climate action, as well as finance, humanitarian and development policies, and investments.