Emergencies & Displacement

Emergencies & Displacement

emergency campJune 2013: Recent floods in northern India have highlighted the terrible devastation that can occur as emergencies turn to disasters. The reality on the ground is often worse than is at first seen. The death toll in India was initially said to be around 1,000, but there are many people missing and state officials reckon it will eventually be three to five times higher. Tens of thousands more people have been displaced.

The helping activities that go on during and after such natural and human-made situations constitute the humanitarian field related to 'Emergencies & Displacement'. When thousands of people are displaced in their own country or become refugees, the victims are usually located in camps. A more fortunate few may find a safe haven with friends and relatives. Because the people affected by the disasters are particularly vulnerable, they need help to ensure they get their very basic needs met – shelter, water, food and health care.

At the outset, important and rapid decisions have to be made concerning the amounts of water, food, shelter and medicines that are needed. (The Sphere Minimum Standards, adopted by most NGOs, provide guidelines).

In some cases, displacement lasts for years and attention must also be given to the issue of the children's education and vocational training or occupational therapy for adults. Music, sport and drama are helpful activities, especially for the traumatised – yet often underutilised.

As crises continue or die down, there may be large groups of refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced People) without income who are dependent on others for everything. Their vulnerability puts them at risk of abuse and exploitation.


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