UN to urge boost to national disaster plans

11th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The United Nations will press political and business leaders to bolster preparations for major disasters during a conference in Geneva next month, a senior UN official said on Monday.

The Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction conference from May 10 to 13 follows a year marked by huge natural disasters.

They have included the earthquake in Haiti, which killed over 220,000 people, in Chile, huge floods in Pakistan that destroyed 1.7 million homes, as well as the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami in Japan last month that ravaged part of the northeast.

Those events were "tragic but good lessons," to encourage countries to plan for disasters, said Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Reduction.

"What we really hope is to build political commitments... This is a priority because if we don't do that we create huge losses," that could undermine the development of poor countries, create social instability and even have as political impact, she added.

Wahlstrom also underlined the degree of preparation in Australia for natural disasters, after devastating floods in Queensland in January, as well as in Japan, which has frequently been highlighted by the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction as a shining example.

"The prevention system worked even though it was a mega earthquake," she told journalists.

"Lives were saved, 27,000 people died which is tragic and too much but I can assure that there was the potential for many more to be killed if the Japanese were not so well trained and disciplined," she added.

© 2011 AFP

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