UNISDR head Mami Mizutori told the opening of AMCDRR that extreme weather events are driving disaster displacement in the region
By Patrick Fuller
ULAANBAATAR, 4 July 2018 - The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, brought the issue of forced displacement as a result of disasters to the fore on the opening day of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.
“Last year, extreme weather events were largely responsible for displacing almost 19 million people around the world. Asia is the most disaster prone region in the world and accounted for almost half this number,” he told the Conference in a video message yesterday from UN HQ in New York.
It was a theme taken up by his special representative and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, who described the problem as “acute.”
“Looking at the Asia-Pacific region, around 8.6 million people in East Asia and Pacific and 2.8 million in South Asia fled within their own countries to escape the impacts of disasters in 2017.”
“Sudden onset disasters, mostly linked to weather-related hazards like floods and storms, accounted for the vast majority of these new displacements in the region,” Mz. Mizutori said in her keynote speech to the Conference
A regional consultation process was launched yesterday on new guidelines to encourage inclusion of disaster displacement reduction in strategies to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan for reducing the numbers of people affected by disasters.
The public consultative version of the guide, is available on the UNISDR web site, PreventionWeb through this link Disaster Displacement: How to reduce risk, address impacts and strengthen resilience
The guide is a collaboration led by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and funded by the Government of Germany, in support of efforts by the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) to ensure that future disaster risk reduction strategies include disaster displacement risk as set out in the Sendai Framework.
The German Federal Foreign Office, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, UN Migration Agency (IOM), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UNISDR were among the members of the working group.
A recent World Bank report projects that without concrete climate and development action, in South Asia alone, more than 40 million people could be forced to move within their countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change.
“It’s essential that displacement risk is factored into development plans but also into emergency response and recovery efforts following humanitarian crises,” explains Loretta Hieber Girardet, Chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in Asia Pacific.
“Governments can take specific measures in advance such as identifying land to host displaced families. We need to intervene earlier with social protection schemes and innovative solutions like forecast-based financing, where funds are released before disasters strike based on weather predictions that can then be used to build resilience at the household level”.
The Guide includes a range of practical recommendations. These include the need to conduct risk assessments that gather data on displacement before, during and after disaster events that be used to develop baselines that inform DRR strategies.
Displacement risk should also be factored into national and local laws, regulations and policies relating to DRR across different sectors. Displaced communities themselves should be consulted on DRR and development plans that directly affect them.
“The Guidelines set out to ensure that no-one is left behind. Quite often displaced people are invisible and lacking in basic rights,” says Silvi Llosa, representing the Norwegian Refugee Council.
“Governments should recognize informal or marginalized settlements in their DRR strategies. If you are living in temporary accommodation where you are not registered with local authorities, your children may be unable to go to school and accessing healthcare may be difficult”.
They are intended as a companion for implementation of Sendai Framework target (e) which seeks a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction by 2020.