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World: Natural Disasters Displaced 19 Million In 2014

By Nick Cumming-Bruce, July 20, 2015. New York Times.

Natural disasters forced more than 19 million people from their homes in 2014, mostly the result of typhoons, flooding and other weather-related events that are becoming more intense and more frequent, a leading European aid agency said Monday.

Natural disasters forced more than 19 million people from their homes in 2014, mostly the result of typhoons, flooding and other weather-related events that are becoming more intense and more frequent, a leading European aid agency said Monday.

Close to 90 percent of the 19.3 million people displaced by natural disasters last year were in Asia, with China, India and the Philippines particularly hard hit by typhoons, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, according to a report released by the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The number was lower in 2014 than in the previous two years, but the historical trend in displacement is moving relentlessly up, the council reported.

Our historical analysis reveals you are 60 percent more likely to be displaced by disasters today than you were in the 1970s,” Alfredo Zamudio, director of the council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, told reporters in Geneva.

The number of people fleeing disasters has averaged 26 million a year in the last seven years, equivalent to one person every second, he said.

Vulnerability is increasing,” Mr. Zamudio added. Extreme events will occur “more often and stronger” and “you will have more people affected by climate change,” he said.

The council report exposes another dimension of pressure on humanitarian agencies. They are already struggling to cope with about 60 million people driven from their homes by conflict or persecution at a time when Western countries are showing a growing hostility to immigrants.

This is simply a further complication and exacerbation of this global phenomenon of migration in our time,” William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organization for Migration, said at a news conference in Geneva.

Displacement by disasters “adds to the number of people who will be, in many cases, moving without proper papers and therefore subject to being criminalized, or sent home forcefully, deported or otherwise,” he said.

The council report also spotlights growing concern over the numbers of people who remain displaced years after disasters, both in industrialized countries and in developing ones.

More than 230,000 people forced to flee the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan four years ago are still displaced, the council reported. Three years after Tropical Storm Sandy, close to 40,000 people still need housing assistance.

Correction: July 21, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people who still need housing assistance three years after Tropical Storm Sandy, according to the report. The number is close to 40,000, not 56,000.

New York Times: Disasters, Both Natural and Weather-Related, Displaced 19 Million in 2014

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