Tsunamiaffected countries need to do even more to protect rights of victims

“These basic rights are spelled out in the UN’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement,” said Eric Schwartz, Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery on the Protection of Vulnerable Communities in the Tsunami Region today at the end of his 10-day assessment mission to the region, where approximately 220,000 people were killed and two million displaced by the disaster.“Officials throughout the region have recognized that they are responsible not only for ensuring access to adequate shelter and housing, education, and medical services, but also for involving the affected populations in the critical decisions impacting their future well-being,” he added.In improving on that effort, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies all have a role to play, he said, stressing that the difficult problems of permanent housing and employment cannot be solved overnight.“But experience demonstrates that when people are adequately consulted in recovery processes, policies are broadly accepted and are more likely to endure,” he said, emphasizing that efforts to engage women and traditionally marginalized communities should be accelerated.During his mission, the fourth in the last six months, Mr. Schwartz visited the Aceh region of Indonesia and the North Chennai region of India, where he met with various government, UN and other officials, civil society leaders, affected communities and representatives from the private sector. read more

Relentless sequence of disasters in AsiaPacific sign of things to come cautions

In addition to the impact of disasters on human lives, the economic losses also threaten to reverse hard-won development across the Asia-Pacific region.According to Armida Alisjahbana, the head of ESCAP, the region’s countries cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, if their people are not protected from disasters.“This means not just building resilience in the priority zones but doing so across the entire region – reaching the most marginal and vulnerable communities,” said Ms. Alisjahbana.Investments in disaster risk reduction and resilience building will be “far smaller than the damage and losses” from unmitigated, she added.“Moreover, these same investments will deliver co-benefits — in the form of better education, health, social and infrastructure services, and higher agricultural production and incomes,” she added.Four distinct ‘hotspots’In the report, ESCAP identified four distinct “hotspots” across the region, where fragile environments are converging with critical socioeconomic vulnerabilities with disastrous consequences. The first is located within the transboundary river basins of South and South-East Asia – home to hundreds of millions – where poverty, hunger and under-nourishment are coupled with intensifying floods that alternate with prolonged droughts. Other hotspots include the Pacific Ring of Fire; Pacific small island developing States; and sand and dust storm corridors were environmental fragility combined with land degradation, desertification and climate change could lead to devastating storms. Issued on Thursday by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 revealed that the annual economic losses due to disasters cost the region nearly $675 billion, about 2.4 per cent its gross domestic product.A new ‘riskscape’ with 4 #disaster hotspots💥Increased investments & application of emerging technologies can help to identify the communities likely to be hit the hardest & empower vulnerable populations across #AsiaPacific. Learn more: https://t.co/t75MQuXhJy #APDR2019 pic.twitter.com/J7R5AGCi1x— United Nations ESCAP (@UNESCAP) August 22, 2019 Sources: PDNASectoral impact of disasters on selected countries.Need for ‘transformative change’The report, released ahead of ESCAP’s Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction that will meet from 28 to 30 August, calls for transformative change, underscoring that social policies and disaster resilience must no longer treated as separate policy domains.Instead, government agencies and ministries should collaborate and align their plans to ensure that disaster risk reduction and building resilience can be achieve comprehensively across policy sectors.ESCAP is the UN’s socio-economic development wing in the Asia-Pacific region. Its 53 member States and 9 associate members span a geographic area from the Pacific island of Tuvalu in the east to Turkey in the west, and Russia in the north to New Zealand in the south. The region is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population. read more