The European Commission and the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and eleven European Red Cross National Societies (Austrian, Belgian, Bulgarian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Ireland, Portuguese, Spanish and Sweden have come together to spotlight "Silent Disasters" in a month-long campaign to raise public awareness.
The campaign was officially launched on 18 February 2013 throughout eleven countries in Europe and is aimed at increasing the visibility of silent disasters and crises through a variety of communication materials - the main feature being a 50-second film in European cinemas and on television.
Both the European Union and the IFRC are concerned by the growing number of the world’s "Silent" disasters. Climate change and urbanisation are among the factors which are worsening the impact of disasters globally, and by 2015, it is expected that 375 million people per year will be affected by climate-related disasters.
Through this campaign, we are turning up the volume on all fronts, and we are sure that it will contribute to European citizens being made aware of the inaudible victims of these silent emergencies. Hopefully, it will also highlight and encourage the need to strengthen the preparedness and resilience of the affected populations, a policy to which the European Union and the IFRC are already firmly committed.
The EU will continue to work with the IFRC and its other partners to ensure that this happens and that the silence is broken.
A "Silent Disaster" is typically small or medium-sized, sudden or slow-onset disasters or crises with fewer casualties than major disasters, but nevertheless with catastrophic consequences for the individuals, families and communities affected. These disasters invariably go unreported in international media and are often out of the public eye, and therefore fail to attract sufficient funding and resources to provide essential humanitarian aid for those affected.
Our partnership with the IFRC is a strong one. Between 1994 and 2012, the EU through its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) contributed more than €386 million to support the IFRC work abroad.
In addition, ECHO has contributed €476 million since 1994 to the global work of European Red Cross National Societies. Furthermore, we are one of the largest donors to the IFRC's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) which specifically targets small and medium-scale disasters. Our financial contributions have supported 140 such disasters for a total of €11 million euros since 2008 — an average of 23 per cent of each annual DREF budget. The 2013 contract with IFRC for €3 million was signed in February.