The international Red Cross/Red Crescent is rethinking its disaster relief plans in light of global warming. The number of geophysical disasters, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has remained fairly steady over the past decade. But disasters caused mainly by weather — including avalanches, landslides and extreme temperatures — have more than doubled in the second half of the last decade.

In its World Disasters Report 2001, the Red Cross says that rather than concentrating on rebuilding damaged infrastructure, aid efforts should be directed at ?rebuilding people?s livelihoods.?

?Too often, efforts at reconstruction after a major disaster don’t lead to recovery,? according to Didier Cherpitel, secretary-general of the Geneva-based federation. ?Instead, they end up rebuilding the risk of danger in future disasters by ignoring economic realities.? In light of global warming, future disaster relief may need to concentrate on changing the lifestyles, and even the locations, of victims. The report cited the case of Venezuela, where survivors of devastating 1999 mudslides were moved to safer but remote areas but, unable to find work, returned to danger zones.

Peter Walker, director of the Asia Regional Office, pinned the blame for rising climate-related disasters on changing land use and increasing urbanization in flood-prone areas and global warming. ?It is evidence of climate change,? he said.

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