Millions of disaster victims left 'hidden in the shadows', says IFRC

by Lin Taylor | @linnytayls | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 31 October 2018 14:22 GMT

A woman, victim of the earthquake and tsunami, washes her face outside a tent at a homeless camp in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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The United Nations estimates some 134 million people will require aid in 2018, but many will not receive help

By Lin Taylor

LONDON, Oct 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Humanitarians must actively seek out millions of people who are hit by crises like floods, earthquakes but are left "hidden in the shadows" and without aid, the world's largest relief network said on Wednesday.

The United Nations estimates some 134 million people will require aid in 2018, but only about 97 million of them will be targeted to receive assistance, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

Millions receive no aid due to lack of information, funding shortfalls and because they are in hard to reach areas, it said.

"Even if all humanitarian appeals were fully funded, it is likely that many millions of people would still be left behind," said Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the IFRC.

"This report should shake the entire international humanitarian sector into actively seeking out those left desperate and hidden in the shadows," he said in a statement.

Over the past 10 years, the IFRC said there were about 3,750 natural disasters, mostly floods and storms.

This equates to more than one disaster every day, which is estimated to have affected 2 billion people and resulted in almost $1.7 billion in damages globally, the report said.

Economic losses caused by climate-related disasters have soared by about two and a half times in the last 20 years, the U.N. said earlier this month, as climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather.

Reaching those in remote regions devastated by disasters requires a rethinking of how aid is distributed, such as giving cash transfers, said Alex Carle, director of programmes at the British Red Cross.

"Getting cash to people does not require the logistical pipelines these emergency operations often need," Carle said in an editorial for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Cash can help us reach people more quickly, efficiently and crucially those who might be hidden in the days and even months after a disaster strikes."

Using the expertise of local volunteers is also crucial during crises, as they can use technology like mobile apps to map out disaster zones to track down those in need, Carle added.

Yet in 2017, less than 3 percent of international aid money, about 603 million dollars, was given to local groups who were first on the scene of a disaster, the IFRC report showed.

"Local communities are more important than ever in helping us reach these 'invisible people' - and already have the networks in place to transform how aid is delivered," said Carle.

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katy Migiro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit to see more stories)

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