At the end of 2019, around 5.1 million people in 95 countries and territories were living in displacement as a result of disasters that happened not only in 2019, but also in previous years. (IDMC, 2020). The countries with the highest number of internally displaced persons were Afghanistan (1.2 million); India (590,000); Ethiopia (390,000), Philippines (364,000) and Sudan (272,000) (ibid.).
In 2019, nearly 2,000 disasters triggered 24.9 million new internal displacements across 140 countries and territories; this is the highest figure recorded since 2012 and three times the number of displacements caused by conflict and violence (ibid.) Most of the disaster displacements were the result of tropical storms and monsoon rains in South Asia and East Asia and Pacific; four countries accounted for more than 17 million new internal displacements due to disaster: India (5 million), the Philippines (4.1 million), Bangladesh (4.1 million), and China (4 million) (ibid.)
While the majority of mobility in the context of environmental and climate change more generally, including disaster displacement, occurs within the borders of countries, some people are forced to move abroad. Global data on cross-border movement in the context of disasters are, however, limited, with only a few notable cases being examined so far (Nansen Initiative, 2015; Ionesco, Mokhnacheva and Gemenne, 2017). In some cases, official sources on humanitarian visas by countries such as the United States (US), Brazil and Argentina for Haitians can be used.
Slow-onset processes such as droughts or sea level rise also increasingly affect people’s mobility worldwide. Though specific data are not available, case studies are highlighted by existing research, for example: Foresight, 2011; Piguet and Laczko, 2014; Ionesco, Mokhnacheva and Gemenne, 2017.
The relocation of communities in the context of environmental and climate change is also increasingly implemented by governments (for a summary of recent relocation programmes see Ionesco, Mokhnacheva and Gemenne, 2016; Benton, 2017 and Georgetown University, UNHCR and IOM, 2017). For instance, tens of thousands of people have been relocated in Haiti (Pierre, 2015) and in Viet Nam (UN Viet Nam, 2014; Chun 2014; Entzinger and Scholten, 2015); hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia (Foresight, 2011: 177); about a million in the Philippines (Ranque and Quetulio-Navarra, 2015; Thomas, 2015; Brookings and UNHCR, 2015: 3-4) and several millions in China (Foresight, 2011: 177).