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Sudden disasters leaving 14 million homeless yearly – UN

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The UN warned that 14 million people worldwide are becoming homeless every year as a result of Sudden-Onset Disasters (SOD), and the number will continue to rise unless significant progress in disaster risk management is made.

According to a study launched by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), SOD occur with little or no warning, and often cause excessive damage far surpassing the national response capacities.

The UN agency said based on the latest data covering 204 countries and territories, SOD such as floods and cyclones are displacing an average 13.9 million people each year.

The agency in a study released on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Reduction, observed on Oct. 13, said flooding, on the rise in a warming planet, is the worst culprit while eight of the 10 worst-affected countries are in south and southeast Asia.

The top three on the list are India with 2.3 million homeless, China with 1.3 million, and Bangladesh with 1.2 million.

“The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by UN 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 UN secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction.

 “These findings should spur efforts to improve land zoning and the quality of buildings, especially in seismic zones and on land exposed to storms and floods,” he added.

The Sendai framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that while the state has the key responsibility to reduce disaster risk, the private sector and other stakeholders should also be involved to share the responsibility.

According to Alexandra Bilak, director of IDMC, said the world today is seeing an all-time high of internally displaced, refugees and migrants.

She said that makes the prediction of disaster risks and impacts an urgent global priority.

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

She said it should be part of disaster risk management planning, both at the national and local level.

It’s the first time that probabilistic risk models for disasters have been applied to forecast the potential average numbers of people becoming homeless over long periods of time.

Previously the technique was used to estimate future economic losses from a range of natural hazards.

The study comes with guidelines for urban planners and settlement programs in areas vulnerable to disaster.

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