Rich nations can also suffer from natural disasters, says UN agency chief

30 August 2005

The devastation being wrought in the south-eastern United States by Hurricane Katrina and the recent deadly floods in Central Europe and Switzerland prove that “anyone can be affected, any day, anywhere” by natural disaster, said the head of the United Nations disaster-reduction body, calling for more systematic prevention and mitigation measures.

“As a tourist or as a traveller, we can be faced by natural disasters that do not exist in our country. Therefore we have to be constantly prepared for all types of natural disasters,” Sálvano Briceño, Director of the Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), told a press briefing in Geneva.

Stressing that even the richest countries have not been spared by such catastrophes, he added that recent weather-rated catastrophes provide an opportune moment for the media to pass the message that it is important for all to be prepared in the future. Such natural disasters will have ever more impact because of increased vulnerability due to urban growth and population growth, he said.

People need to be better prepared, and there should be more education and awareness-raising on this subject, he said, adding: “People need to be aware of the importance of early warning systems, and how they can participate, and that there are programmes for preparing for natural catastrophes in which they can participate, as well as simulation exercises.”


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