Natural disasters can lead to enormous economic losses, and also frequently cost large numbers of human lives. In some cases, adequate assistance can save many people and ensure swift reconstruction of the area. In other cases, the situation for a part of the population is so hopeless that flight is the only solution.
War, oppression based on political or religious differences and famine also force people to flee. Currently, more than 80 million people are living in a foreign country, and an estimated 2 million people emigrate annually on a permanent basis (FAO). The number of refugees world-wide are estimated at between 11.5 million (UNHRC) and 20 million people (FAO). A large number of these refugees find themselves in nearby countries in refugee camps.
Satellite images can contribute to more effective assistance;
they offer virtually immediate information allowing one to quickly
estimate the scope of a natural disaster and take the right
measures to limit the consequences as far as possible.
Recent research has also demonstrated the potential utility of satellite images for identifying antipersonnel minefields.