UNHCR pledges to better protect and assist people displaced by disaster

UN Refugee Agency vows to reduce and address displacement caused by disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk addresses the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.  © Chirine El-Labbane/Platform on Disaster Displacement

ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 27 (UNHCR) – The UN Refugee Agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection vowed to better protect and assist the millions of people around the world displaced by disaster at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23 May 2016. 

“We pledge concrete action to support State efforts to implement the Protection Agenda to reduce and address displacement caused by disasters and the adverse effects of climate change,” Volker Türk said at the launch of the new Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Floods, earthquakes, tropical storms and volcanic eruptions forced 203 million people to flee their homes between 2008 and 2015, an average of 26 million per year and the equivalent of one person per second. With climate change, these numbers are expected to increase and lead to more forced displacement. This magnifies other potential drivers of displacement, such as food, water insecurity and competition over resources.

The aim of the Platform on Disaster Displacement is to follow up the Swiss- and Norwegian-led Nansen Initiative and to implement the recommendations of the Protection Agenda, a toolbox to better prepare for and respond to displacement. By building partnerships between policymakers, practitioners and researchers, the Platform will become a forum for dialogue and information-sharing, as well as policy and normative development.  

UNHCR appreciates the strong leadership shown by Switzerland and Norway in the Nansen Initiative, and by Germany and Bangladesh in the Platform on Disaster Displacement.  

Climate change and disaster are among the biggest threat for humanity and UNHCR is determined to address protection gaps. The agency has pledged to work with a range of partners to ensure that the human rights and protection needs of those affected are met in disaster responses, both conceptually and operationally.