More than 250,000 people killed by disasters worldwide in 2010: Ban

crying Haitian child

crying Haitian child

NARRATOR: More than a quarter of a million people were killed by disasters worldwide last year, making 2010 one of the deadliest years in more than a generation.   UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressing an informal thematic debate in the UN General Assembly on disaster risk reduction, warned that natural disasters could make 2011 as costly as 2010, saying ” we have already seen grievous disasters in Australia and Brazil.”

TAPE: They show that no country or city – rich or poor – is immune to disaster. But, all too often, poorer countries suffer disproportionately and have the biggest challenges in recovering from the social and economic impacts. Children are also among the most vulnerable. Thousands died last year as earthquake, flood or hurricane reduced their schools to rubble. These deaths could have been prevented. Lives can be saved by advance planning — and by building schools, homes, hospitals, communities and cities to withstand hazards. Such measures to reduce risk will grow ever more important as our climate changes and extreme events become more frequent and intense. Countries that incorporate climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction into their budgets and development planning will be better placed to protect hard-won development gains and accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

NARRATOR: Secretary-General Ban said that achieving the Millennium Development Goals will pay dividends by creating more resilient societies. He said experience and common sense agree: we must invest today for a better tomorrow.

TAPE: We see such investments paying off already – in Peru, China, Jamaica, Viet Nam and Madagascar. Queensland in Australia has just escaped relatively unscathed from one of the largest cyclones to hit the country in living memory. Luck played a part. The densest population areas were spared. But planning and preparedness also played a key role. We need to take lessons from cities and countries that have shown how to reduce risk – as well from those less fortunate, whose examples of calamity should give us all pause for thought……
We must learn to manage and maintain a truly global response to crises and make the most effective use of resources. A UN global disaster risk reduction campaign is already focusing on safer schools, hospitals and cities.

NARRATOR: Secretary-General Ban said that nearly 600 towns and cities from all regions have committed to making them more resilient.
But he was quick to add that so much more needs to be done.

TAPE: This year, we will focus on Small Island Developing States and the Least Developed Countries, including at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in May. As we look ahead to the Rio Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, it is plain that reducing risk and building resilience will be essential. It will require courage, vision and leadership, and will need everyone’s participation and investment.

NARRATOR: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concluded that the more that governments, UN agencies, organizations, the private sector and civil society understand risk and vulnerability, the better equipped they will be to mitigate disasters when they strike – as they most certainly will.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

duration: 4’07″

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