The fate of migrants caught up in natural disasters has only come to heightened attention in recent years as a result of calamities like Hurricane Katrina and the Asian Tsunami. These disasters show that migrants are often a forgotten group in crisis situations suffering from very particular forms of disadvantage and discrimination. The juxtaposition of these two cases highlights remarkable commonalities in the migrant experience: despite the fact that these disasters transcend two continents; economic, regional, cultural divides; disparate groups of people; and both the developed and developing world, the fate of Burmese migrants in Thailand following the Tsunami and Latino migrants in the United States after Hurricane Katrina, provides a salutary lesson for disaster planners. It is a warning which merits heeding; given the increasing likelihood of freak weather events resulting from climate change visited on an ever expanding and mobile global population.
The Tsunami hit Thailand’s southern seaboard on the morning of 24 December 2004. A total of 5400 people died but the number of Burmese migrants who were killed or affected remain unknown to this day, conservative estimates suggest 7000 victims [Inter-agency, 2005, 4]. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the US half a year later, on 29 August 2005. It displaced 2 million people, killed 1300, affected some 160,000 migrants (regular and irregular) [NCLR, 2006, 8; Batalova, 2005], and left a trail of damage estimated to cost between US$75-200 billion.
This paper is based on information collected by a desk review of literature on migration and natural disasters materials collected through internet research and email enquiry in 2007. The material was originally collected as part of consultancy assignments on natural disasters and migration carried out for International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [Naik et al, 2007]. The papers resulting from those assignments very briefly touched on the issues raised here, but do not develop the themes covered by this paper or make parallels between the plight of migrants facing disasters in the developing and developed world. The analysis therefore is an original comparison of the impacts of the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina on migrants. The paper is based on documents obtained from: UN agencies, inter-governmental organisations (INGO), human rights organisations, research institutes, sector journals, national non-governmental organizations (NGO), lobby groups, government bodies and press agencies.
The overall aim of this article is to illustrate the recent challenges to humanitarian action caused by the doctrine of the Global War on Terror. Therefore, the first part will give an illustrated overview of how insecurity in the field influences the performance of humanitarian actors and how beneficiaries suffer from this change. A very common perception among the beneficiaries of humanitarian aid, explicitly in conflict zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, is that relief action is conducted and somehow even imposed by foreign states, and therefore humanitarian aid is another tool of western imperialism. The impact of counter-terrorist donor strategies and security concerns of humanitarian actors is described in the second part. The main focus of this article will be: (1) donors policies, (2) action of implementing partners, and (3) beneficiaries.
This paper challenges the traditional view about chronically food insecure populations, in contrast to relief-assisted population, who are often seen as a ‘structural’ or ‘long-term’ problem, meriting neither an emergency nor recovery assistance. The author puts forward three interlinked assumptions related to chronic food insecurity in developing countries: a) investments in agricultural and rural development over the past decades have declined significantly; b) relief interventions have become effective in saving lives but do not go a further step to encourage investment in recovery of disaster affected population and the food insecure; and c) recovery programmes suffer from lack of best practices, absence of institutional means and dedicated financial arrangements.
The problem of chronically food-insecure populations must be recognised nationally and internationally as a priority, and as a distinct economic group with specific political, security and humanitarian dimensions. Nationally led specific institutions and dedicated recovery funds that focus on the chronically food insecure population must be established. This will guarantee recovery for the chronically food insecure populations and for those requiring sustained assistance following a relief measure.
This field study represents the second half of a modest research project to investigate whether international Islamic aid agencies can make use of their privileged relationship in majority Muslim societies to achieve high standards of efficacity, as Christian agencies are often able to do in majority Christian societies. (The first case study was conducted in Mali, where the evidence was clearly positive.) Post-tsunami relief aid in Aceh, Indonesia, was chosen for the second case study, with a focus on rehousing programmes. Attention is given to the contrasting programmes of the Turkish Red Crescent Society (strictly speaking, a non-confessional organization) and of two British agencies, Islamic Relief Worldwide and Muslim Aid. The conclusion is reached that whereas benefit has been gained from the ‘cultural proximity’ of Muslim agencies, this is a problematic concept and the main reason for the high reputation of all three organizations in Aceh has been the recognized quality and reliability of their service delivery. However, in the current international political climate where the entire sector of Islamic charities is experiencing an overreaction against them after 9/11, it should not be necessary for a Muslim charity to demonstrate that it can do better than non-Muslim charities – only that it can do as well.
This article presents a theory of obligation in the context of humanitarianism. Its foundational assumption is that there exists a moral imperative to assist the structurally dispossessed and functionally abused. It builds particularly on the cross-disciplinary work (both academic and applied) of anthropologists, but also of political scientists, sociologists, human rights specialists, and others. The links between human rights and humanitarianism are stressed, while suggesting principles that can guide humanitarian organizations as they serve those in need. Humanitarianism is defined as “crossing a boundary;” risk usually is encountered by the service provider as scarce resources are used to help the vulnerable. Obligation is defined, in part, as “what one should do.” A theory emerges as the “morally possible” and the “materially possible” intersect. Notions of human dignity are shown not to be appropriate in orienting the real-world work of humanitarians; notions of fairness are more appropriate as humanitarian work is organized and implemented. “Pragmatic humanitarianism” occurs as principled guidelines and achievable actions merge, and as non-neutral stances are taken as (for example) refugees are assisted. Humanitarian aid is shown to be fundamentally a moral relationship based on the obligation of “those who have” to address the felt needs of “those who have not.” Examples from Bosnia are featured.
EC policy endorses local and regional procurement of food aid commodities (LRP), a practice that is believed to assist in the development of local agriculture and livelihoods in supplying countries. The research hypothesis for this study was that such procurement of food aid can make a much larger contribution to the economies of developing countries, and poor people in particular, and that policies can be put in place to increase such benefits.
Available literature was reviewed, and case studies were undertaken in Ethiopia and Uganda where combined LRP started in the 1990s and in recent years has been running at over 300,000 tonnes per annum. Available information permits certain conclusions about the impact of LRP, as follows:
- It provides much greater net benefits for rural and urban populations than equivalent expenditure on tied food aid (provided it is competently managed, and the local/regional supply base allows the activity to be developed without major adverse impacts on consumers – where this is not the case imported in-kind food aid from developed countries may sometimes be more appropriate).
- While no systematic assessment has been made of the overall impact of LRP on price stability, several cases can be cited where it has increased price instability. This does not call into question the value of LRP, but points to the need for more flexible funding arrangements, further developing market analysis capabilities, and untying food aid so that LRP, in-kind food and cash support may be combined in a way which has a benign effect on price movements. WFP’s Advance Financing Facility is a positive step in making funding arrangements more flexible.
- The evidence for impact on market efficiency is mixed. Local procurement has led to investment and improved practices among traders supplying food aid, but has not greatly impacted the conduct of the regular grain trade in source countries, or on the quality of grain in that trade. In Uganda, much of the LRP is logistically inefficient, and it has promoted investments in drying and storage plant that are excessively concentrated in Kampala, and poorly located to cope with a scenario of declining food aid quantities.
- LRP is having some positive impact on the development of Ethiopia’s export trade, but in Uganda, LRP has not been organised so as to equip traders – in terms of investments, financing and quality management – to develop an export market that would cushion them in the event of a major reduction in WFP purchases.
- In both countries, food aid grain sales are highly concentrated among a few suppliers. However there is no conclusive evidence that this market concentration is a source of market inefficiency.
- Notwithstanding the strong performance of certain groups, LRP aimed exclusively at producer organisations has proved an inefficient use of resources.
- Local and regional procurement have led to the development of industries for the manufacture of blended food commodities, and diversification into the production of soybeans, notably in Ethiopia.
Food aid agencies can adjust tendering procedures to mitigate certain problems, but in countries where they are involved for the medium or long term, they should consider more comprehensive approaches to market development which leave behind stronger and more efficient structures that will serve the host countries better. To this end, they should work closely with partners seeking to improve the performance of grain markets in areas such as contracting, warehouse receipt systems and exchange trading.
The findings confirm the research hypothesis and the following specific recommendations are made to those concerned with the distribution of food aid:to devote more resources to assessing impact of local purchase on supplying areas; to improve the information base for decision-making; for those still supplying in-kind food aid to untie a large proportion; to take all steps to facilitate timely and effective decisions by local food aid managers; to investigate the scope for ‘food aid pipelines’ in countries where food reserves still exist and function efficiently; to focus on developing existing marketing systems rather than exclusive relationships with producer organisations, and; where food aid is expected to continue at significant levels for several years, to work proactively with partner organisations to establish new market institutions with a view to improving the performance of local and regional markets.
Food insecurity and chronic marginalisation of poor households have been both symptoms and causes of humanitarian crises in the Third World over the past decades. Despite massive international assistance, and extraordinary technological advances, food insecurity and hunger is expanding, engulfing, every year, millions of people. It is puzzling why hunger continues to affect 850 million people worldwide despite commitments from global citizens of high moral and financial standing, world leaders and national authorities to tackle the problem.
The long-term deterioration in livelihoods coupled with civil strife, sharp inequalities in resource endowment and adverse climate are responsible for humanitarian crisis; if current trends continue, food insecurity risks becoming permanent in some regions of Africa, and defying existing framework of humanitarian assistance for sustainable recovery.
The author underscores a missing link between the international desire to ending hunger and poverty and resource allocation for recovery. For communities, it is the inequalities in opportunities and access to resources that have led to marginalisation; neglect that often is the source of armed conflict. In fact, hunger with its attendant political, security and humanitarian implications is one of the global threats of our times and can become a disruptive force of the future. The key to successful food security strategies is an understanding of the community, its resource endowment in a specific local farming system, and link investment decisions to communities and households that will enhance and create conditions to foster growth and resilience. The duration and intensity of investment are crucial factors of success to protect recovery gains from erosion due to recurrent risk and disasters.
This paper will explore how the Protection Cluster, as part of the new United Nations led cluster approach in emergency environments, can serve to implement the international community’s responsibility to protect civilians in the field and will make a policy recommendation to ensure the international community is better able to carry this responsibility out and fulfill it. The paper is divided into five sections: first, tracing the emergence and content of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) framework and its burgeoning acceptance as an international norm; second, the development of the cluster approach and the Protection Cluster as a means for improving the international community’s protection response on the ground; third, a review and analysis of how the implementation of the Protection Cluster on a pilot basis in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has started to implement the R2P framework in the field as well as some challenges it faces in providing adequate protection response; fourth, a policy recommendation to the UN to institutionalize the international community’s responsibility to protect citizens in the field by mandating the Protection Cluster with the responsibility to protect directly according to the R2P framework, with specific actions recommended for a new leadership structure and guidelines to make this a reality; and last, a conclusion on what this policy with the new structure and guidelines could mean, if heeded and instituted, for the international community’s ability to protect citizens in complex emergencies around the world as well as today’s major obstacle hindering this from becoming reality.
While drug donations can have a great role in humanitarian relief, they can actually be detrimental when provided with no regard to international standards. This paper aims to provide some insight into problems encountered during the process of pharmaceutical assistance in emergencies. It presents outcomes of a study involving secondary and field based research conducted in post-tsunami Sri Lanka. Lessons learned and some proposals for improvement of quality and management of pharmaceutical donations are discussed in the last part of the paper.
Some 450 million people worldwide currently suffer from some form of mental disease or brain condition, but almost half the countries in the world have no explicit mental health policy and nearly one-third have no program for coping with the rising tide of brain-related disabilities. There is also a growing evidence base on the implementation of mental health programs in developing countries, and manmade and/or natural disasters often provide opportunities to develop mental health services. This paper discusses the mental health needs that arise from disaster situations and several best practices for addressing these needs.