Identifying the Affected

Who needs humanitarian assistance?

The first and biggest challenge in any humanitarian response is identifying those who needs humanitarian assistance and those who may not. Equal amount of care, compassion and sensitivity is needed in selecting and  sparing people for humanitarian assistance. It is better to keep subjective emotions and interpretations outside the field of relief.  Good humanitarian intention of favouring under dog should only be applied with well informed judgement and balanced assessment.  Many a times humanitarian interventions left deep discord among communities who always lived in harmony, when humanitarian agencies chose to pamper a few, while completely other affected using their own subjective biases. Communities and local governance units in the disaster affected areas in developing countries in the last few decades condemn cultural, religious and ethnic biases that some humanitarian agencies bring in the processes of relief and rehabilitation. The first and most visible impact of any major disaster is loss of lives, loss of family members, collapse of basic infrastructure, loss of access to; health, water, food, shelter, source  of income, and protection. Therefore, It is very important to remember that an impact of a disaster is different from visible infrastructure damage in can see in the first phase of assessment. While extensive damage may occur to some the impact in terms of a combination of lack of access to a number of basic minimum services is felt by all in a  disaster zone (see following graph).

There are people who are directly affected by losing members of their family, losing houses, house hold utilities, etc. There are others, whose houses are damaged partially and who are fortunate enough not to lose family members. But all the people who are in a disaster affected zone have some level of impact on them, most general of them is loss of income and basic services for first few weeks or months. Humanitarian response in such situation as much possible should provide assistance to all of them as per differential impacts. It is not a good idea to select only those who bear most visible tragedy and making them super rich, while completely ignoring others.

Key Message: Humanitarian response though can afford some amount of positive discrimination, it should not make some super rich, while completely ignoring who are also affected by a disaster.

Disclaimer: This article is a reflection of author’s personal thoughts, and all rights reserved by SAFE CITIZEN.ORG

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