London: At least one billion people risk fleeing their homes over the next four decades because of conflicts and natural disasters that will worsen with global warming, a relief agency warned today.
In a report, British-based Christian Aid said countries worldwide, especially the poorest, are now facing the greatest forced migration ever — one that will dwarf those displaced by World War II.
In what at the time amounted to “the largest population displacement in modern history,” it said, 66 million people were displaced across Europe by May 1945, in addition to the many millions more in China.
Today there are an estimated 163 million people worldwide who have been displaced by factors like conflict, drought and flooding as well as economic development projects like dams, logging and grain plantations, it said.
“We believe that forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor people in the developing world,” said John Davison, author of Human Tide: The Real Migration Crisis.
While the figure is already “staggeringly high,” the report warned that “in future, climate change will push it even higher.
“We estimate that over the years between now and 2050, a total of one billion people will be displaced from their homes,” the 52-page report said.
The figures include 645 million who will migrate because of development projects, and 250 million because of phenomena linked to global warming like floods, droughts and famine, it said.