22 million displaced by disasters in 2013

2014-09-17 22:09
Kashmiri men make their way on a makeshift raft through flooded streets in Srinagar. (Punit Paranjpe, AFP)

Kashmiri men make their way on a makeshift raft through flooded streets in Srinagar. (Punit Paranjpe, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - The number of people displaced by natural disasters quadrupled from 1970-2013 largely due to urbanisation, and the trend will be aggravated by climate change, a report released on Wednesday found.

The report by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said 22 million people were displaced by disasters in 2013.

While all countries are affected by disasters, 85% of displacement takes place in developing nations where disaster reduction efforts have not kept up with the rate of urbanisation and population growth, according to the report.

In developing countries, rapid urbanisation has often lead to the creation of densely populated shantytowns whose infrastructure is not resilient enough to stand up against severe weather.

"It is the poorest people who pay the price for natural disasters," said Jan Eliasson, UN deputy secretary general.

In Asia, 19 million people were displaced in 2013 by typhoon Haiyan. In the Philippines alone the storm forced 4.1 million people to flee their homes.

Other developed parts of the world were not immune to natural disasters. In the United States 218 500 people were displaced by tornadoes in the state of Oklahoma.

"Most disasters are as much man-made as they are natural," said Alfredo Zamudio, director of IDMC. "Better urban planning, flood defences and building standards could mitigate much of their impact."

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council and former UN humanitarian affairs chief, warned that displacements by disasters have grown in frequency, scale and complexity in past decades.

"It is expected to be aggravated in the future by the impacts of climate change," he said noting that weather patterns will likely become increasingly extreme and unpredictable.

In 2013, the number of people displaced by natural disasters was three times higher than the number of those forced to flee due to conflicts.

However, conflicts and disasters often are connected. Of the 36 countries that had armed conflict in 2013, 33 were also affected by natural disasters.

Egeland said the two factors often create a vicious cycle: maintaining peace is hindered by natural disasters, while insecurity in turn prevents countries from building more resilient infrastructure.

The report, which comes a week before the UN Climate Summit, calls on world leaders to take actions to reduce the risk of displacement in swiftly urbanising areas and help communities adapt to the increasingly unpredictable weather.

Read more on:    natural disasters

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.