Over 450 million children exposed to extreme high temperatures in South Asia: UNICEF


New Delhi: United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that 76 percent of children (460 million) under 18 in South Asia are exposed to extreme high temperatures.

“This means that 3 in 4 children in South Asia are already exposed to extreme high temperature compared to only 1 in 3 children (32 per cent) globally” said the UNICEF.

In addition, the data also show that 28 per cent of children across South Asia are exposed to 4.5 or more heatwaves per year, compared to 24 per cent globally.

As per the UNICEF report, the children, including those living in South Asia, are expected to face more frequent and severe heatwaves, largely due to climate.

Acording to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) July was the hottest month  ever recorded globally, raising further concerns about a future of the planet.

“With the world at global boiling, the data clearly show that the lives and well-being of millions of children across South Asia are increasingly threatened by heat waves and high temperatures,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.

According to UNICEF’s 2021 Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), children in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, and Pakistan are at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of climate change.

“We are particularly concerned about babies, toddlers, malnourished children and pregnant women as they are most vulnerable to heat strokes and other serious effects,” added Mr. Wijesekera.

In parts of Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, including Jacobabad, the world’s hottest city in 2022, temperatures were in their 40’s in June, exposing 1.8 million people to severe short- and long-term health risks.

The scorching heat came less than one year after the devastating floods which left most parts of southern Sindh under water in August 2022. More than 800,000 children in flood-affected areas were at risk of severe heat stress in June 2023.

Ultimately, the most vulnerable children, adolescents and women are the ones that pay the highest price for extreme weather events.

“Young children simply cannot handle the heat,” added Wijesekera.

“Unless we act now, these children will continue to bear the brunt of more frequent and more severe heatwaves in the coming years, for no fault of theirs.

UNICEF also urged the frontline workers, parents, and local authorities to protect children, through education, awareness to overcome on this crisis.


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