Natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan–which devastated the Philippines in 2013–displace more people than war, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Geneva. And as climate change sets off increasingly lethal natural disasters, so will the numbers of environmental refugees increase, Reuters reported.
It is a reality that governments must prepare themselves for. In 2013, some 22 million people were displaced by extreme natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis, a number three times the number of those who were forced to migrate because of war, according to the IDMC.
“Many more people in a growing population live more exposed to extreme weather,” Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs the IDMC, said this week at a conference in Oslo, Norway.
Climate change, rising sea levels, and extreme weather are decimating people’s homes and access to safe food and water. In 2011, experts predicted that by the year 2020, just five years from now, some 50 million people will be forced to migrate because of environmental degredation. Earlier this summer, New Zealand accepted a family Grist called the world’s first official environmental refugees, who cited climate change as the reason why they had to flee their homeland.