Weekly Chart: Mapping Disasters and Displacements in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Elizabeth Gonzalez

As Mexico and the Caribbean assess the damage from earthquakes and hurricanes, we look at where the region stands on disaster-related internal displacements.

It’s been a devastating September for Latin America, particularly for Mexico, shaken by two earthquakes, and the Caribbean, struck by one Category 5 hurricane after another. Every year, natural disasters like these displace an average 25 million people globally, and the risk of destruction grows as stronger storms converge with rapid, poorly planned urbanization. In 2016—well before these latest events—there were roughly 1.8 million new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of natural disasters.

On September 19, Mexico’s capital, with a metropolitan population of 20 million, was shaken by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake just 12 days after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit the southern part of the country. More than 250 lost their lives in the more recent quake. There are no official numbers yet on displacements but initial assessments show at least 75 buildings in the capital were completely destroyed, while the government says it will demolish another 600 that were damaged. In the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, where the first earthquake hit, 120,000 people were displaced.

While Mexico continues to take stock of the situation, the Caribbean reels from Maria, the second Category 5 hurricane this month, shortly after dealing with the impact of Irma. The first hurricane left some 62,500 Cubans, Dominicans, and Haitians displaced. While Puerto Rico was spared the worst of Irma, it has gotten some of the worst of Maria, the latter of which left at least 10,000 people displaced.

With the recent disasters in mind, we take a look at disaster-related internal displacements in the region.