(Reims, October 13, 2022) – In a new report released today, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) affirm the need for major policy changes to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on livestock, at a time when the frequency and severity of extreme weather events continue to increase in Europe.
The report Beyond Rescue: Animals in Disasters indicates that animals are not considered in any way in the policies and preparedness plans arising from the current humane models of disaster management in Europe, putting human and animal life at risk.
“IFAW promotes the inclusion of animals in disaster preparedness plans because we recognize the risks to both people and animals when the plight of animals is not considered,” explains Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, who heads the Disaster Relief Program in Europe.
“We need to clearly define who is responsible for protecting animals in emergencies. In addition, our preparedness measures must now go beyond the individual framework to be integrated into functional systems at all levels of government . »
Becoming more frequent and violent on a global scale, natural disasters cause massive damage. In Europe, severe floods hit Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sicily in the summer of 2021. Heat wave episodes and wildfires also ravaged Greece, Portugal and France in 2021 and 2022.
“These natural disasters enrage people as much as animals, injuring, killing and destroying habitats in their path,” explains Céline Sissler-Bienvenu.
According to a study by the European Environment Agency, “between 1980 and 2020, extreme weather killed more than 138,000 people in the 27 EU Member States and caused financial losses estimated at 487 Billion Euro ” . This amount includes the loss of animals, these are often considered “economic losses”.
Europe and its constituent countries already have frameworks for managing disaster risks and mitigating their impact on human populations and their property. However, animals are not considered.
According to this new report, more human lives could be saved if animals were included in emergency plans. In fact, it is common for people to refuse to follow evacuation orders when their pets cannot evacuate with them, putting the lives of these animals, their owners and rescuers at risk. team.
Furthermore, the failure to consider wild animals in disaster situations can lead to serious public health problems, due to the risk of the spread of zoonoses that are transmitted from animals to humans, especially in the event of contamination of drinking water by animal carcasses. In addition, animals that are injured or in search of food or shelter following an extreme event may enter human-populated areas, endangering their own lives and those of human populations.
The executive summary and the full report can be downloaded via this link.
Note to editors
IFAW recommends the inclusion of animal protection in European funding and in disaster management plans across the European Union (EU), working along the following axes:
- Gain a better knowledge of the needs of animals in the event of an emergency and improve human skills related to the management and support of these needs.
- Integrate resources dedicated to animal protection in the management of humanitarian emergencies, both for Member States and for relief operations deployed in humanitarian crises outside the EU.
- Better recognize the need to protect animals because of the interdependence that exists with humans, and ensure better communication about this need.
- Clearly define who is responsible for animal protection in emergencies.
- Integrate animal protection into disaster management plans.
- Promote better organization of municipalities and the livestock sector with emergency planners to improve disaster management.
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About IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare)
IFAW is a non-profit organization that works for a harmonious harmony between animals and people. Working with experts and citizens in more than 40 countries around the world, we rescue, care for and release animals, while restoring and protecting their natural habitats. The issues before us are urgent and complex. To solve them, we look at a new look and take bold action. Working with local communities, governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses, we use innovative methods to enable all species to thrive. To learn more, visit ifaw.org.
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