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2 billion people affected by natural disasters in past 10 years

The 2018 Red Cross World Disasters Report asks who is being left behind in their moments of greatest need.

A new Red Cross report says governments and aid groups must do more to help millions of people who are being left behind in humanitarian crises around the world.

“The Red Cross report shows that natural disasters affect over 200 million people a year on average worldwide and this is expected to increase,” said Peter Walton, International Director, Australian Red Cross.

“Essential aid is increasingly not reaching all those in need as humanitarian crises, caused by extreme weather and natural disasters, such as droughts, heatwaves, floods and cyclones, dramatically worsen the human toll.

“We’ve seen some of the worst ever disasters in Australia and the Asia Pacific in recent years and we must ensure that we help everyone, particularly those being left behind,” Mr Walton said.

The 2018 World Disasters Report, “Leaving millions NO-ONE behind: The international humanitarian sector must do more to respond to the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people”, reveals that a massive global shortfall in funds needed for humanitarian assistance is not the only issue limiting how people in need are identified, reached, and supported.

This Red Cross research is a very serious wake-up call for Governments and the entire international humanitarian sector.

Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General, IFRC

“This Red Cross research is a very serious wake-up call for Governments and the entire international humanitarian sector,” said Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who is visiting Australia this week. 

“Among the millions of people missing out on any aid in crises are those without identification papers, the marginalised such as sexual or ethnic minorities and many who are hard to reach due to armed conflict or being in remote locations,” Dr Mahmood said.

The 2018 World Disasters Report recommends that government and international humanitarian organisations improve how data is collected and shared across the sector, and then used to reach those that are at great risk. All governments are also being urged to prioritise and increase support for the hardest to reach populations in all disasters.

“Our report highlights that people who are isolated and not receiving help in disasters could be better supported if local and national agencies in the Asia Pacific and beyond are empowered and resourced to do more in their countries. Local actors are often the only ones able to reach people in remote or insecure areas and more needs to be done to support strengthening first responders before disaster strikes.

“Only 2.9% (AU$850 million) of all international humanitarian aid was provided directly to local and national responders in 2017. We can and must do much better than that,” Dr Mahmood said.

The World Disasters Report confirms that there needs to be a fundamental shift in dramatically increasing investment in preparing for disasters and building resilience in communities.

Mr Walton said: “Globally, the cost of damage caused by disasters in 2017 was a staggering $472 billion. Yet research shows that every dollar spent on reducing risks saves up to $8 when disasters strike.”

The World Disasters Report is produced by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It includes comprehensive disaster data and analysis on disaster management. Learn more about the report at

World Disasters Report 2018 in numbers

Two billion people have been affected by disasters in the past 10 years.

In 2017, 335 natural disasters affected over 95.6 million people, killing an additional 9,697 and costing a total of AU$472 billion.

The Asia Pacific region suffered the majority (58%) of the 9,697 deaths recorded in disasters in 2017.

Australia and the Asia-Pacific was the most disaster prone region in the world last year, struck by two out of five (43%) of 335 disasters worldwide such as cyclones/hurricanes, floods, bushfires and earthquakes.

Asia is the most vulnerable region in the world, with 70% of the total number of people affected worldwide.

By the end of 2017 there were 179 internationally funded International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emergency response operations in place, aiming to provide 79.1 million people with assistance across 93 countries.

2017 was characterised by a higher number of reported destructive storms worldwide, with 127 compared to the annual 98 average.

Last year saw above average and catastrophic bushfires, with 15 compared to the annual average of nine in 2017.

There were 25 disastrous landslides worldwide in 2017 compared with the annual average of 17.