Disasters Make 14 Million People Homeless Each Year, UN Says

Effects of a warmer climate on recent weather events both their severity and their frequency have been revelatory for many. Credit

Effects of a warmer climate on recent weather events both their severity and their frequency have been revelatory for many. Credit

"Protecting lives and livelihoods of people, particularly in the country's disaster-prone areas such as in the mountains and coastal areas, through public awareness programmes and integrating disaster-resilience in public infrastructure development policies are inevitable to address poverty, hunger, malnutrition, food insecurity and recurring cost of repeatedly restoring public infrastructures", said Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan ahead of the International Day for Disaster Reduction - marked every year on October 13.

Eight of the ten countries with the highest levels of Average Annual Displacement or probable risk of future displacement and loss of housing are in south and south-east Asia: India, 2.3 million; China, 1.3 million; Bangladesh, 1.2 million; Vietnam, 1.0 million; Philippines, 720,000; Myanmar, 570,000; Pakistan, 460,000; Indonesia, 380,000; Russian Federation, 250,000; US, 230,000. This is the first time that these techniques have been applied to forecast potential average numbers of people made homeless over long periods of time. The top three on the list are India with 2.3 million homeless, China with 1.3 million, and Bangladesh with 1.2 million.

Russian Federation and the United States also feature as countries where disasters could cause large-scale homelessness, unless significant progress is made on managing disaster risk, the study said.

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"The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by United Nations member states two years ago has a key target for a substantial reduction in the numbers of people affected by disasters by 2030", said Robert Glasser, the United Nations secretary-general's special representative for disaster risk reduction. Apart from death or severe injury in a disaster event there is no more crushing blow than the loss of the family home which is often a place of work in numerous countries worst-affected. The new model goes some way towards predicting the risk of disaster-related displacement, which is an "urgent, global priority", she noted.

The most devastating floods to hit South Asia in a decade killed more than 1,400 people this year, and focused attention on poor planning for disasters, as authorities struggled to assist millions of destitute survivors.

The study comes with guidelines for urban planners and settlement programs in areas vulnerable to disaster. Justin Ginnetti, head of data and analysis at the IDMC, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation there was a strong correlation between the risks of being uprooted by a disaster and residing in a rapidly urbanizing location.

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He contrasted Japan and the Philippines, which have roughly the same number of people exposed to cyclones. The findings underline the challenge we have to reduce the numbers of people affected by disasters.

Bilak also urged for safe, secure and affordable housing for those who are displaced by disasters.

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