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Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid on International Day for Disaster Reduction

13.10.2014

Christoph Strässer, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (13 October) to mark International Day for Disaster Reduction, whose motto this year is “Resilience is for Life” and which will focus in particular on the situation of older people in and after disasters:

During the last two decades, the frequency and intensity of natural disasters have greatly increased around the world. The number has doubled in the last 20 years from 200 to 400 a year. At the same time, the annual humanitarian need of those suffering hardship has increased manifold. In 2014 alone, this figure stands at around 13.5 billion euros – twice as high as in 2012.

Older people in particular suffer during disasters: around the world, more than 60 per cent live in rural regions, which are harder hit by the aftermath of disasters than urban areas. 100 million older people across the globe are living in abject poverty on less than one US dollar a day. That makes them especially vulnerable when a disaster strikes. Physical limitations make it even more difficult to access relief measures before, during and after a disaster. Due to their knowledge and experience, however, they can make a valuable contribution towards disaster risk reduction.

When developing and implementing the relief measures, we should in particular pay attention to the needs and rights of older people in areas at risk from natural disasters. The greater involvement of older people in disaster risk management is crucial, for this will also benefit their families and society as a whole.

We will continue to call at international level for an effective disaster risk reduction system to be established, which prevents disaster risks from developing, reduces existing risks and strengthens the resilience of communities in the face of disasters, while taking into account the needs and rights of all vulnerable sections of the population.

Background information:

13 October has been declared International Day for Disaster Reduction by the United Nations. The idea behind this day is to encourage all citizens and governments to get involved in building resilient communities and nations which can withstand disasters. The Federal Foreign Office has long since been engaged in disaster risk reduction. In 2013, the Federal Foreign Office launched the Preparedness Initiative and the Principles of Preparedness were subsequently adopted on 11 June 2013 at the International Preparedness Conference in Berlin. The Principles focus in particular on the individual role of the various players and their responsibility in the sphere of humanitarian disaster risk reduction. The German Government continues to be actively involved in the negotiations on a new, international framework agreement on disaster risk reduction, which is to follow on from the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 and be adopted at the Third World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction to be held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015.

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