Monday July 16, 2018

UN: Most Deaths From Natural Disasters Occur in Poor Countries

The report,“Poverty & Death: Disaster Mortality 1996-2015,” finds 90 percent of these disaster deaths occur in low-and-middle-income countries

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In this photo taken Jan. 26, 2016, Mayrem Humeyisu talks about food supply in her neighborhood in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia.(VOA)
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  • The report, however, notes over the last 15 years, weather-related disasters including drought, heat waves, floods and storms have become the main cause of loss of life
  • Haiti is a prime example. Glasser notes that it suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 and just last week was hit by Hurricane Matthew. The carribean island has lost more lives to natural hazards than any other country

Geneva, October 14, 2016: A new report finds more than a million people have been killed in more than 7,000 natural disasters stretching over a 20-year period. The report,“Poverty & Death: Disaster Mortality 1996-2015,” finds 90 percent of these disaster deaths occur in low-and-middle-income countries.

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An analysis of 20 years of data shows earthquakes and tsunamis are the biggest overall killers, followed closely by climate-related disasters, which have more than doubled over the period. The report, however, notes over the last 15 years, weather-related disasters including drought, heat waves, floods and storms have become the main cause of loss of life.

The U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, Robert Glasser, says there is a clear link between the deaths and climate change, as well as with income and development levels.

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“The irony is that those countries that have contributed least to climate change, to this crisis we face, are the ones that are being hit the hardest in terms of loss of life from these events, these increasingly frequent and severe weather and climate-related events,” said Glasser.

Residents work clearing a house destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016.(VOA)
Residents work clearing a house destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016.(VOA)

Haiti, Indonesia, Myanmar

Haiti is a prime example. Glasser notes that it suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 and just last week was hit by Hurricane Matthew. The carribean island has lost more lives to natural hazards than any other country.

Haiti tops the list of the 10 countries with the most disaster deaths, followed by Indonesia and Myanmar. No rich country appears on this list; but, the report notes wealthy countries suffer the greatest economic losses from natural disasters, amounting to $400 billion or more a year.

Afghans make their way in flooded water from heavy rain in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2, 2016.(VOA)
Afghans make their way in flooded water from heavy rain in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2, 2016.(VOA)

Sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan

Debarati Guha-Sapir, who heads the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Belgium, tells VOA that problems of migration are linked to civil conflicts and climate-related events in sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and other countries.

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“These climate disasters, these repeated droughts or the repeated floods in sub-Saharan Africa, in Eritrea, in Ethiopia, in Sudan have a very important role, a very important part to play in the international migration flows,” said Guha-Sapir.

The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, describes the report as a damning indictment of inequality. While rich countries suffer huge economic losses from natural disasters, people in poor countries, he says, pay with their lives.(VOA)

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Women Are Rarely “Put Front And Center” At The Heart Of Climate Action

Feminism doesn't mean excluding men

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Former President of Ireland and former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson speaks during a meeting at Associated Press headquarters, in New York, May 8, 2017.
Former President of Ireland and former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson speaks during a meeting at Associated Press headquarters, in New York, May 8, 2017. VOA

Women must be at the heart of climate action if the world is to limit the deadly impact of disasters such as floods, former Irish president and U.N. rights commissioner Mary Robinson said on Monday.

Robinson, also a former U.N. climate envoy, said women were most adversely affected by disasters and yet are rarely “put front and center” of efforts to protect the most vulnerable.

“Climate change is a man-made problem and must have a feminist solution,” she said at a meeting of climate experts at London’s Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship.

“Feminism doesn’t mean excluding men, it’s about being more inclusive of women and – in this case – acknowledging the role they can play in tackling climate change.”

Research has shown that women’s vulnerabilities are exposed during the chaos of cyclones, earthquakes and floods, according to the British think-tank Overseas Development Institute.

In many developing countries, for example, women are involved in food production, but are not allowed to manage the cash earned by selling their crops, said Robinson.

Earth depletion
Earth depletion, Pixabay

The lack of access to financial resources can hamper their ability to cope with extreme weather, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of the event.

“Women all over the world are … on the front lines of the fall-out from climate change and therefore on the forefront of climate action,” said Natalie Samarasinghe, executive director of Britain’s United Nations Association.

“What we — the international community — need to do is talk to them, learn from them and support them in scaling up what they know works best in their communities,” she said at the meeting.

Also read: Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wines

Robinson served as Irish president from 1990-1997 before taking over as the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and now leads a foundation devoted to climate justice. (VOA)