NEW YORK, 14th October, 2016 (WAM) — Over the past twenty years, 90 per cent of the 1.35 million people who have died in 7,056 disaster events have come from low and middle-income countries, according to a new United Nations report released today described by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as a “damning indictment of inequality.”

The report, “Poverty & Death: Disaster Mortality 1996-2015,” was released by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction and found that earthquakes and tsunamis are the biggest killers overall, with climate-related disasters close behind.

“On this [International Day], I call on all Governments to work with civil society and the private sector to move from managing disasters to managing risk. Let us move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention and build resilience by reducing loss of life,” said Mr. Ban in his message.

This year’s International Day also marks the launch of UNISDR’s new Sendai Seven campaign, which focuses on targets from the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The framework’s first target is to reduce global disaster mortality substantially by 2030 and is accompanied by the slogan Live to Tell, as well as a social media campaign that aims to reach 20 million people.

In his message, Mr. Ban noted that while high-income countries suffer massive economic loss in disasters, those in low-income countries “pay with their lives.” The report found a direct correlation between disaster death tolls and income and development levels. Over the twenty-year period examined in the study, low and middle income countries accounted for 1,221,490 of 1.35 million deaths.

The Secretary-General reminded that “eradicating extreme poverty – the first of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, is essential to reducing disaster risk,” and called on all Governments to “move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention.”

“We can replace material possessions, but we cannot replace people,” he stated.

WAM/tfaham