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Issues in focus: Natural Disasters and Internal Displacement

Natural disasters are among the leading causes of internal displacement world-wide. This includes sudden-onset events such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and mudslides, as well as more insidious phenomena, such as droughts, erosion, and periodic river flooding. Plainly, no Government is responsible for the forces of nature. However, human rights issues can nevertheless be implicated in efforts to mitigate and respond to such disasters at the national and international levels.

This was highlighted after the 26 December 2004 tsunamis which deeply impacted a number of states in Asia and eastern Africa, killing more than 300,000 people and displacing more than a million from their s. In February and March 2005, the former Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons undertook working visits to Sri Lanka and Thailand to learn more about the protection challenges arising from the tsunamis raised for persons displaced by the tsunami and to share ideas about how to address them, in particular with Governments, national human rights institutions, United Nations and other international organizations and non-governmental organizations.