Asia-Pacific Struck By 1,625 Disasters Over Last Decade: UN report

PIC-CAP- Men look for their belongings after an earthquake, in Kishim district of Badakhshan province, Afghanistan.

KABUL – Half a million people lost their lives to disasters over the last decade in Asia and the Pacific that was struck by over 1,625 disasters during this period, a UN panel report said on Tuesday, calling for a fundamental rethink to short-sighted approach to disasters in the region.

The 2015 Asia-Pacific Disaster Report — Disasters without borders: Regional resilience for sustainable development — also stressed on the need for countries in the region to work together since disasters like Monday afternoon’s earthquake affected Afghanistan, Pakistan and India were cross-border in nature.

“It is a grave concern that disasters are becoming more frequent, much larger and more intense. As the report highlights, the majority of the disasters in our region are cross-border in nature, be they earthquakes, droughts, tropical cyclones and floods,” said Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and executive secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at the formal release of the report in Bangkok.

“Only by coming together in the spirit of cooperation can the Asia-Pacific region hope to become truly disaster resilient,” she added.

It is a point that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed back home and nudged disaster response personnel in south Asia to work together. India’s National Disaster Response Force will host the first joint disaster management exercise later this year.

The report counted drought — that pushes millions into debt, poverty and sometimes suicide — as a forgotten disaster that should be treated as a long-term recurring risk.

“Building resilience is not a choice or luxury for us, but a compulsion,” she said.

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