Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



(2004), "Editorial", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 13 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/dpm.2004.07313eaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Over the past few months the world has experienced the continuing series of disasters that we are required to respond to in a speedy and effective manner.

Two hurricanes recently swept through the Caribbean, and the loss of life was dramatically reduced compared to previous episodes. People were moved out of the path and found safe shelter. The advance notice of the hurricanes was timely, as was the co-ordinated response. This was an excellent example of national and international co-operation.

But, when we look at the humanitarian crisis that has occurred on the Sudan/Chad border, the picture is the very opposite. Total lack of effective co-operation on an international scale with political structures apparently unable to agree what day of the week it is.

This disaster has been allowed to intensify and the refugees suffering the consequences must wonder if anyone really cares about them. With the exception of some of the larger international aid agencies, the international response has been appalling. The United Nations does its usual trick of forming umpteen committees required to report back several months hence; the major governments of the world give a little aid; governments sit on their hands and prove to be ineffective. We learn little from our history.

Humanitarian crises of this magnitude require a quick, multinational and co-ordinated response that comes before petty political wrangling, and the sooner our politicians recognise this the better.

A report out today states the world population will breach 9 billion by 2050, with the majority of the increases within the developing and under-developed nations. This will increase the pressure on the Earth’s resources and on our humanitarian crisis response systems. Carrying on as we do today will not suffice. The rich will become even richer, and the poor even poorer, and if we learn nothing else from our past, then we had better remember that everyone has their breaking point and when this is exceeded, then battle for resources begins.

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