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The impact of climate change and natural disasters on migration

Currently, most migration due to climate change and disaster is domestic rather than cross-border and temporary rather than permanent. Nearly 33 million disaster-related displacements occurred in 2022. Still, in the case of the largest displacements – after floods in Pakistan and due to droughts in East Africa – most people returned to their homes. Over time, migration may become a bigger problem due to climate change’s slow, gradual effects, such as higher temperatures, desertification and rising sea levels.

In 2022, natural disasters caused 32,6 million new internal displacements. This is more than half of all internal displacements, the highest result in a decade and 41% higher than the annual average over the last decade. The five countries with the highest number of new internal displacements due to natural disasters in 2022 are Pakistan (8,2 million), the Philippines (5,5 million), China (3,6 million), India (2,5 million) and Nigeria (2,4 million). 98% of the 32,6 million new disaster displacements in 2022 resulted from weather-related hazards such as storms, floods and droughts.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that by 2050, over a billion people could be exposed to coastal climate risks. According to the World Bank, climate change may affect 216 million people in Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific region, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

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