manmade disasters

 

Manmade Disasters, Social Turmoil and other Complex Emergencies

Syria, Yemen, Colombia-Venezuela, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, DRC are among the countries and regions torn by conflict or economic and social turmoil, creating one of the worst global crises of mass migration and refugees since World War II.  

Manmade Disasters: Civil Conflict and Social Instability

We all know what devastation 7 years of vicious conflict has done to Syria, and 4 years of strife in Yemen has unleashed an unprecedented humanitarian disaster of mass starvation and disease. Other countries in the region have also experinenced internal turmoil; in the DRC conflict has collided with an outbreak of Ebola that threatens to spread beyond country borders. Along the Colombia border with Venezuela, social and economic instability in Venezuela has created a crisis of families crossing the border to seek health care. The massive displacement and migration of civilians and the complexity of operating medical relief in insecure environments makes this kind of emergency one of the most difficult to manage. In refugee camps and in the movement of people, the living conditions, especially for children, the elderly and people with health problems creates the environment for the spread of potentially deadly disease and deprives people of even basic health care. Add the malnutrition and mental health problems that are part of the forced displacement of entire communities, and health care becomes one of the first needs and first casualties. 

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The targeting of health facilities and workers in war zones makes the crisis more acute.

 

Manmade Complex Threats

The human contribution to disaster ranges from war or economic/social crisis to poor land and water management contributing to drought and subsequent collapse of the food supply.

Threat:

The targeting of health workers and facilities by combatants:

Response:

Finding ways to support health operations while not putting local health workers at greater risk. Keeping health workers safe is top priority. (e.g. health care partners in Syria or Yemen).

Threat:

Large flows of refugees or internally displaced persons - often traumatized families - that overwhelm host communities.

Response:

Rapid aid to strengthen health services in the community and adding other support programs such as mental health (e.g. Jordan). 

Threat:

Civilian injuries from violence in insecure environments where health services are limited.

Response:

Medicine and supply shipments to local or NGO health care partners who are providing emergency care in the field or in local facilities

Threat:

Complex emergencies that come with destruction of infrastructure and dislocation of population lead to outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and other water borne diseases.

Response:

Supporting and organizing sanitation and education efforts to limit disease outbreaks while providing medicine and supplies to treat those infected.

Threat:

With major dislocation of population, the establishment of makeshift camps without services or support. 

Response:

Assessing and meeting critical needs such as sanitation, safe water and basic health care.

Threat:

Destruction or disruption of the food and water supply leading to widespread malnutrition. And malnutrition leads to other health issues especially in children making them even more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Response:

Aiding nutritional support while working to limit the sources of infectious disease through water purification and better sanitation, especially in refugee camps.

Providing health care in an unstable region is dangerous and complex. To do it at all, we rely on our partners and you to stand with us.
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The Ready Cycle Plans for the Worst

Emergency programs at Americares represent a continuous cycle of Ready, Respond, Recover and then get Ready again, only better. Each disaster presents a new set of challenges to lay the foundation for a better response the next time around.  It is a dynamic process, ever changing as more extreme weather and unforeseen manmade crises arise – always demanding that we increase our knowledge and capabilities. In that work, we are ever mindful and incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of our donors and the presence of local partners who have the ground sense and skill necessary to meet the challenges and often only lack resources to prepare for them.