12 October 2011: UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has endorsed the 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 13 October each year.
The charter for reducing disaster risks highlights 5 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 on their communities.
Millions of children affected
An estimated 66,000,000 children are affected by disasters such as hurricanes and floods every year. They can be left homeless, lose loved ones and suffer injuries, violence and psychological trauma. Many more children would survive and be better protected from disasters if they had life-saving information and skills.
Ban Ki-moon said: “The message is clear: disaster risk reduction should be an everyday concern for everybody.”
Plan and its Children in a Changing Climate coalition partners are calling on governments, donors and agencies to sign up and support the charter, which states:
- 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.
Children are often viewed as victims in disaster situations but actually they can think more laterally and creatively than adults
Roger Yates, Plan’s Humanitarian Director, said the 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 minimising the impact of disasters.”