World Tsunami Awareness Day welcome boost for disaster risk reduction – UN official

On 14 March 2011, tsunami damage extends to the horizon, in the city of Sendai, in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Photo: UNICEF/Adam Dean

23 December 2015 – The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction today welcomed the resolution adopted by the General Assembly recognizing 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day.

“Many disasters would not happen and many lives and livelihoods would be saved if there was greater public awareness of the threats posed by natural hazards such as tsunamis,” Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, said in a statement, welcoming the designation of the day as a “welcome step.”

“It will help to focus attention on measures which can be taken to reduce risks from both man-made and natural hazards and to ensure that more people live and work in places which are free from the threat not just of tsunamis but other sudden onset hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms.”

The proposal was first suggested by the Japanese Government after the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in March this year.

Japan has suffered heavy losses as a result of tsunamis, most recently the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011, which claimed over 15,000 lives, disrupted the nuclear power industry and left many thousands homeless.

“It should be remembered that the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which claimed some 230,000 lives from countries across the world galvanised political commitment to reducing disaster risk and disaster losses,” Ms. Wahlström added.

“The memory of that event helped to ensure the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction this year which sets targets for the first time on reducing mortality, the numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure from disasters.”

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