Last year, 17.2 million people were forced to flee within their own countries due to disasters and extreme weather events such as, cyclones, droughts, bushfires and floods. 

These events are happening more often and with greater force each year. Some families and communities are already suffering the consequences of climate change.

Limited natural resources, such as drinking water, are becoming even scarcer. Crops and livestock struggle to survive where conditions become too hot or too cold, threatening livelihoods and causing food insecurity.

Climate change is also a "threat multiplier" in many of today's conflicts, from Syria to Somalia. Climate change can sow the seeds for conflict, but it also makes displacement much worse when it happens.

Families forced to flee because of climate change are especially vulnerable and in some circumstances, they may be in need of international protection.

Refugee law therefore has an important role to play. UNHCR is providing protection and assistance for many people forcibly displaced by the effects of climate change and disasters and is working to increase their resilience.

What is UNHCR doing to help?

UNHCR is committed to raising awareness of climate change as a driver of displacement and taking action to improve the sustainability of our operations, such as:

Reducing the environmental impact of refugee settlements, such as solar powered electricity and tree-planting to counter land degradation after a major emergency.

Supporting legal advocacy to inform the development of rights for people displaced by disasters and climate change.

Calling for disaster displacement to be prioritised in future policy planning and humanitarian coordination.


We are deeply concerned about the massive protection challenges raised by disasters and climate-related displacement, and work with other agencies and a range of partners to protect those at risk.

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