Ban Ki-moon endorses charter for tackling disasters
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has endorsed a children's charter launched by Plan and its partners in a statement to mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is celebrated on October 13th of each year.
The Children's Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction highlights five priorities identified through consultations with more than 600 children in 21 countries. Education, child protection and access to basic information are the main issues the children believed necessary to reduce the impact of disasters and climate change on their families and communities.
An estimated 66 million children are affected by disasters every year, and 2011 has been no exception. Children across Asia, Africa and South America have been affected by droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis and severe flooding.
Speaking on the role children can play in preventing the worst effects of natural disasters, Ban Ki-moon said: "The message is clear: disaster risk reduction should be an everyday concern for everybody."
Millions of children who survive disasters caused by natural and man-made hazards are left homeless, lose loved ones, suffer injuries, violence and psychological trauma. But many more children would survive disasters if they had life-saving information and skills.
Roger Yates, Humanitarian Director for Plan International says this charter will ensure children are taken seriously in disaster response. "Children are often viewed as victims in disaster situations but actually they can think more laterally and creatively than adults. They also have excellent communication networks and can be key to preventing and minimizing the impact of disasters. We seem to forget that over 50% of the world’s population are children and young people and unless we listen to them and actively involve them in protecting their homes and communities, then no significant change can be made."
The Children's Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction offers governments a five point checklist of priorities made by children for children:
- Schools must be safe and education must not be interrupted
- Child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster
- Children have the right to participate and to access the information they need
- Community infrastructure must be safe, and relief and reconstruction must help reduce future risk
- Disaster Risk Reduction must reach the most vulnerable people
Plan together with UNISDR and others are calling on governments, donors and agencies to step up by signing up to the charter and commit to take action to protect children for a safer tomorrow.
"We have the right to be safe and adults have the responsibility to make sure that we are safe. That’s why it’s very important they include us and we too can do things to help ourselves and our community," said 15-year-old Honey from the Philippines.
Watch Ban Ki-moon's speech and get involved in the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Read the Children's Charter for Disaster Risk Reduction.