Wednesday May 22, 2019

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)
  • 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)

Next Story

EU Countries Consume Earth’s Resources Faster than they can be Renewed: Report

Some 100 Greenpeace activists and students from several European countries marched through Sibiu carrying a huge banner saying "Broken Climate Broken Future"

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France's President Emmanuel Macron, right, and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker speak during the informal meeting of European Union leaders in Sibiu, Romania, May 9, 2019. VOA

The European Union’s 28 countries consume the Earth’s resources faster than they can be renewed and none of them has sustainable consumption policies, a report released Thursday said, as EU leaders met to discuss priorities for the next five years.

“All EU countries are living beyond the means of our planet. The EU and its citizens are currently using twice more than the EU ecosystems can renew,” the report by the World Wide Fund (WWF) and Global Footprint Network said. It was issued as leaders met in the Romanian city of Sibiu to set the course for the bloc after Britain’s planned departure from the EU.

Climate change key priority

French President Emmanuel Macron said before the summit that climate change was among his key priorities and it was included in the bloc’s 10 “commitments” for the future until 2024, agreed by all the 27 leaders meeting in Sibiu.

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The European Union’s 28 countries consume the Earth’s resources faster than they can be renewed and none of them has sustainable consumption policies. Pixabay

But the bloc is divided on how to achieve any ambitious climate goals and it remains far from clear how the Sibiu declaration would be implemented. Some 100 Greenpeace activists and students from several European countries marched through Sibiu carrying a huge banner saying “Broken Climate Broken Future.”

“We cannot talk about a prosperous future without a healthy climate,” Greenpeace climate activist Alin Tanase told Reuters. Views on concrete action to be taken to combat climate change differ between EU countries, influenced greatly by their dominant industries, such as carmakers in Germany or the coal industry in Poland.

Tusk sensitive to climate change

The chairman of the summit, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, said there was no future for politicians who were not sensitive to climate change and environment protection issues.

“The young generation is much more united on this than the member states. The truth is that nothing has changed when it comes to this divide and different opinions about this. What is new is this very fresh and energetic pressure,” he told a news conference after the summit.

climate change, earth's resources
Some 100 Greenpeace activists and students from several European countries marched through Sibiu carrying a huge banner saying “Broken Climate Broken Future.” VOA

Climate protection and sustainable development is also an important topic in the election campaign for the May 23-26 European Parliament elections, which will influence the leadership of European institutions and their programs.

The European Commission has been pushing for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050 through reducing carbon emissions that will otherwise boost the Earth’s average temperatures with devastating consequences.

“The EU uses up almost 20 percent of the Earth’s bio-capacity although it comprises only 7 percent of the world population,” the WWF report said. “In other words, 2.8 planets would be needed if everyone consumed at the rate of the average EU resident,” it said.

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FILE – Climate change demonstrators hold banners in front of the Winston Churchill Statue during a protest near Parliament in London, April 12, 2019. VOA

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Luxembourg smallest but fastest

It said the EU’s smallest and richest country, Luxembourg, was also the one which used up renewable resources the fastest last year. Just 46 days into the year, it had consumed its full share of the Earth’s resources, it said.

The EU’s poorest nation, Romania, took the longest to arrive at that point, on July 12th. But that was still earlier than the world’s average of Aug. 1, called Earth overshoot day. (VOA)