Extreme Weather Displaced 7 Million People in First Half of 2019

Residents of Mozambique flee floodwaters following Cyclone Idai in March 2019.

Residents of Mozambique flee floodwaters following Cyclone Idai in March 2019. Denis Onyodi/IFRC/DRK/Climate Centre

Natural disasters forced a record 7 million people to be displaced in the first half of this year, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all the internal displacements worldwide, according to a new report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). The organization estimated this number could hit 22 million by the end of 2019, which would be among the highest ever recorded.

“In today’s changing climate, mass displacement triggered by extreme weather events is becoming the norm,” the report said.

The vast majority of displacement so far has been associated with storms and floods. Cyclone Fani in May displaced more than 3.4 million people in India and Bangladesh. In March, Cyclone Idai devastated Mozambique before moving across Malawi and Zimbabwe, displacing 617,000 people. Flooding in Iran affected 90 percent of the country and triggered more than a half-million displacements. In total, 7 million people were displaced by 950 extreme weather events in 102 countries and territories from January to June.

“The international community cannot continue to ignore internally displaced people,” Alexandra Bilak, IDMC’s director, said in a statement. “We must support national governments in their efforts to… invest in sustainable development and climate change adaptation. Only then will we be able to reduce the upheaval, trauma and impoverishment that many millions of people suffer each year.”