ENVIRONMENTAL disasters linked to climate change are threatening the lives and futures of over  19 million children in Bangladesh, including prompting families to push their daughters into child marriages, UNICEF said Friday.

''Climate change is deepening the environmental  threat faced by the families in Bangladesh's poorest communities leaving them unable to keep their children properly housed, fed, healthy and educated,'' the UN's children agency in a report.

''In Bangladesh and around the world, climate change has the potential to reverse many of the gains that country has achieved in child survival and development.''

Around 12 million of the children most affected live in and around the powerful river systems which flow through Bangladesh and regularly bust their banks, the report said.

Another 4.5 million children live in coastal areas regularly struck by powerful cyclones, including half a million Rohingya refugee children from neighbouring Rohingya Myanmar living in fragile bamboo and plastic shelters.

A further three million children live further inland, where farming communities suffer increasing periods of drought.

Bangladesh's flat topography, dense population and weak infrastructure have long made it vulnerable to extreme weather events, but experts say that these have become more frequent in recent years as global temperatures have risen.

In 2007 a powerful cyclone killed nearly 4,000 people and affected hundreds and thousands more.

The most recent major flooding of the Brahmaputra River in 2017 inundated at least 480 community  health clinics and damaged some 50,000 tube wells, essential for meeting communities safe water needs.

The report says that the climate change is a key factor pushing poorer Bangladeshis to head to the capital Dhaka and other major cities, where children risk being pushed into dangerous forms of labour and early marriage.

It cites research showing that Bangladesh has six million climate migrants already, a number that could have more than double by 2050.

The connection between climate change and child marriage, child labour and access to education is evident in various parts of Bangladesh according to the report. [Agencies].


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