Natural disasters can cause a lot of damage to people and their belongings. People can lose even the most basic human rights, such as the right to freedom and the right to be free from harm, for a long period of time before their lives become normal again.
WHAT ARE NATURAL DISASTERS?
Natural disasters are events that occur in nature which cause a lot of damage. These can often be caused by extreme weather, as in the case of droughts, hurricanes and tsunamis. They can also be caused by natural features of the earth, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
WHAT IMPACT DO NATURAL DISASTERS HAVE ON HUMAN RIGHTS?
Natural disasters often cause deaths and damage to people’s property. Many can no longer access food and water. When buildings are ruined, people lose their homes and communities lose vital infrastructures, such as schools and hospitals. This means that people often have to find somewhere else to live, and can no longer access healthcare and education. It can take a very long time to rebuild everything which has been destroyed, so people are forced to find a new home or they lose out on basic facilities. They also might have to find new jobs, if their previous workplaces have been made impossible to work in, which means that they can lack the money to buy the food and shelter which they have just lost. When people have to move to new places, they are not guaranteed the protection they received at home before the disaster. If they are forced to move to a different country, they might not be seen a citizen, and so will not have certain rights anymore, for example the right to work. There also tends to be an increase in human trafficking (modern-day slavery), because human traffickers can pretend to be aid workers offering help.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS AFTER NATURAL DISASTERS?
Certain things can be done that make natural disasters have a smaller impact on lives. The most important thing a person can do is to be informed about what kinds of natural disasters might happen in their area. Once someone knows what kinds of threats they might face they can prepare for them before they happen. For example, a person might create a bag full of emergency materials such as a first aid kit and a flashlight. Families might make an evacuation plan and decide on a meeting point. Buildings can be made stronger, so that they are more likely to hold out against strong winds and rain. Buildings can also be raised up higher, so that they are less affected by flooding and tsunamis. Although not much can be done to stop natural disasters from happening, you can prepare for them before they come and educate others about the dangers they might face.