Monday, October 19, 2009

Disaster displacement driving millions into exile

Jeanne Roberts in Solve Climate: In 2008 alone, at least 36 million people were displaced by sudden-onset natural disasters, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDMC. Of those disasters, more than 55 percent were climate related … These displacements, sometimes of Biblical proportions, as in the case of the late August flooding of India's Kosi River that left 2 million people homeless, strain the resources of the global agencies appointed to help.

Even in a developed nation like the United States, the Iowa flood of 2008 – which official reports say devastated 50,000 homes in one state alone – put the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the second-hardest test it faced in the 21st century; the first was Hurricane Katrina.

The IDMC, a displacement reporting arm of the United Nations, was established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council. It is the foremost international agency monitoring population displacement worldwide, providing an online database that provides information and analysis on displacement in over 50 countries.

Even so, as IDMC Head Kate Halff notes, the work in incomplete: “A mechanism for the global monitoring of displacement caused by disasters, which is currently not in place, could be a relatively straightforward process, as outlined in our report, and would allow a monitoring agency to collect data on duration of displacement, on returns, on local integration and relocations, and on the needs over time of people who have been displaced. But it will require the consistent involvement of governments, and relief and development actors.”…

People wading to safety near the I-10 offramp to S. Claiborne in New Orleans on August 31, 2005. Taken near Stanislaus Hall, the old Delgado Nursing dormatory. Shot by Jh12, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

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