Is a humanitarian disaster a domestic issue?

17 January, 2011

Richard Burge, Chief Executive, writes:

I have just received a New Years greeting by email from the Asia Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok.  It was full of hope and gentleness, of optimism and peace with the deep sincerity that can come only from those who daily wrestle with the horror often random and indiscriminate that the world can throw at vulnerable people. 

We have discussed the issue of how you try to foresee the unpredictable and the unexpected.  Does it require specialists in every type of disaster to be positioned for global deployment?  How do you build resilience into a community with few resources but a high likelihood of experiencing a catastrophe?  Do you prioritise only those affected by the disaster and ignore the poor and vulnerable who were there in the first place?  And how do the experts leave without creating a permanent dependency on what was intended to be temporary support? 

Dialogues here have addressed the issues that are summarised in podcasts with practitioners on-the-ground and with the former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.  How do we reinforce rather than undermine the capability of local communities to cope themselves in the future?

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