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Flooding in Pakistan in 2010 affected 20 million people. Photo: Ashraf Mall/Tearfund

From: Managing disasters – Footsteps 88

How to prepare for disasters and reduce the risk of them occuring

Displaced people are those who have left their normal living area because their lives or their livelihoods were in danger. They have moved to a new area to avoid further losses of life and property, and because of the risk of further disaster. Natural disasters are one main cause of displacement. Hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, windstorms and droughts may destroy or damage homes and livelihoods to such an extent that it is no longer safe or practical for people to remain at home.

Local communities and organisations, such as the local church or other faith groups, are often already in a position to respond immediately to the arrival of displaced people. The desire to help those in need is often strong but the practical aspects of dealing with the sudden arrival of a large group of people can be challenging.

Here are some of the problems that displaced people typically face:

People in Sudan on the move having been displaced

Conflict is also a major cause of displacement. Between January and October 2011, nearly 326,000 people were internally displaced by conflict incidents in South Sudan (UN South Sudan Consolidated Appeal 2012). Photo: Layton Thompson/Tearfund

How to respond

Responding to the needs of displaced people will require generosity and a desire to ‘love your neighbour’. It is likely that your community already has significant resources to offer in response to the needs of displaced people, even if you cannot meet all their needs.

For more practical guidance on how to respond to the needs of displaced people, read Chapter Four of Disasters and the Local Church by downloading it from this website or ordering a hard copy (for more details see Resources page).

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