Climate change and displacement | UNHCR

Climate change and displacement | UNHCR

The climate crisis is amplifying displacement and making life harder for those already forced to flee.

Climate change and displacement are increasingly interconnected. As extreme weather events and environmental conditions worsen with global heating, they are contributing to multiple and overlapping crises, threatening human rights, increasing poverty and loss of livelihoods, straining peaceful relations between communities and, ultimately, creating conditions for further forced displacement. 

The majority of people forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict and violence today live in countries that are highly vulnerable and ill-prepared to adapt to climate change. 

Displaced populations frequently have no option but to live in remote locations, in overcrowded camps or informal settlements, with limited access to basic services or infrastructure and where they are highly exposed and vulnerable to climate hazards like floods, drought, storms and heatwaves. In addition, the climate crisis is disrupting livelihoods and making it more difficult for displaced people to become self-sufficient. Climate impacts can also escalate tensions and conflicts over vital resources like water, fuel and arable land, threatening peaceful coexistence between displaced populations and host communities. 

Most refugees and internally displaced people also come from highly climate-vulnerable countries where weather shocks and worsening climatic conditions add to the challenges that make sustained peace and safe return difficult to achieve. 

Without help to prepare for, withstand, and recover from climate-related shocks and stresses, they also face increased risks of becoming displaced again. Addressing climate change as a root cause of displacement is crucial to breaking this cycle and finding lasting solutions. 

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