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Sunday, 13 October 2013

International Day for Disaster Reduction 2013, October 13

9 October 2013

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Persons with Disabilities Central to Disaster Resilience Initiatives, Secretary-General Says in Message for International Observance

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon’s message for the International Day for Disaster Reduction, observed on 13 October:

“Persons with disabilities are the biggest untapped resource for disaster planners around the world.”  These are the words of Firoz Ali Alizada, a double amputee from Afghanistan who responded to a United Nations survey which uncovered scores of stories that speak to the ingenuity and drive of persons with disabilities to manage risk from disasters.

More than 1 billion persons in the world live with a disability.  This year’s commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction is an opportunity to recognize their vital role in fostering resilience.

Unfortunately, most persons with disabilities have never participated in disaster risk management or related planning and decision-making processes.  They suffer disproportionately high levels of disaster-related mortality and injuries.

Early warning systems, public awareness campaigns and other responses often fail to consider the needs of persons with disabilities, putting them at an unnecessarily elevated risk and sending a harmful message of inequality.

We can change this situation by including persons with disabilities in disaster resilience initiatives and policy planning.  The recent General Assembly High-level Meeting on Disability and Development recognized the urgent need for action on this issue, which is also addressed in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Inclusion saves lives.  And it empowers persons with disabilities to take ownership of their own safety — and that of their community.  We can already see their potential contribution in the many persons with visible and invisible disabilities around the world who already serve as volunteers and workers helping communities when disaster hits to cope and bounce back.

On the International Day for Disaster Reduction, let us resolve to do everything possible to ensure that all persons with disabilities have the highest possible levels of safety and the greatest possible chance to contribute to the overall well-being of society.  Let us build an inclusive world where persons with disabilities can play an even greater role as resourceful agents of change.

What's New : 

Sunday is the International Day for Disaster Reduction, which this year focuses on the one billion people around the world who live with some form of disability. Find out more and take a look at graphic visualizations of the results of the UNISDR survey on needs of persons with disabilities in disasters: 

Asia and the Pacific is the most disaster-prone region of the world. Almost two million people were killed by disasters in the region between 1970 and 2011, representing 75 per cent of global disaster fatalities. A person living in Asia and the Pacific is four times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than someone living in Africa, and 25 times more likely than someone living in Europe or North America. In 2011 alone, economic damages and losses from disasters in the region totaled more than $293 billion.
For many policymakers, this is uncharted territory: they are more accustomed to focusing on problems in particular economic or social sectors rather than treating them as systemic wholes. This report "Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises", which was prepared for the 69th Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), provides a comprehensive response to addressing multiple shocks in Asia and the Pacific. It shows how people, organizations, institutions and policymakers can work together to weave resilience into economic, social and environmental policies.

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