01 June 2023
Cyclone Mocha: Latest example of dire climate threat facing Myanmar’s children
More than 90 per cent of children in Myanmar face three or more overlapping climate and environment shocks, hazards or stresses, according to a new UNICEF regional report, ‘Over the Tipping Point’. The report reveals that children in the East Asia and Pacific region face a greater exposure to multiple climate disasters than in any other region of the world. It calls for urgent investment in climate-smart social services and policies to protect children. Ten days after Cyclone Mocha battered areas in Myanmar already hard-hit by years of conflict and deprivation, the impact of climate change on children and families is clear for all to see, UNICEF said. It is estimated that 3.4 million people live in the areas highly impacted by Cyclone Mocha. With temperatures and sea levels rising and extreme weather such as typhoons, severe floods, landslides and droughts increasing globally, millions of children are at risk. Many children and their families face displacement and struggle to survive, with limited or no access to healthcare, education, and water and sanitation services. In Myanmar, in addition to the impact of COVID-19 and conflict, many families have been forced to pull their children out of school to help with agricultural work, or because they cannot afford the cost of education due to the economic impact of climate change on their livelihoods. According to the latest analysis, which is based on the Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), in the East Asia and Pacific region over 210 million children are highly exposed to cyclones; 140 million children are highly exposed to water scarcity; 120 million children are highly exposed to coastal flooding; and 460 million children to air pollution. Ultimately, these effects exacerbate inequalities that children already face, pushing the poorest further into poverty. As families grapple with the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha - amid an ongoing conflict - it is important to remember girls are more likely to be affected by disasters than boys or men, UNICEF said. Also, children with disabilities are at greater risk of adverse outcomes following a natural disaster. In addition to its ongoing humanitarian support to children affected by the ongoing conflict across Myanmar, UNICEF is working to provide lifesaving assistance to children and families affected by Cyclone Mocha in Rakhine, Chin and Kachin States and Sagaing and Magway Regions.