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Causes of Complex Emergencies

  • By: William Lang
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Complex emergencies are caused by several factors, including the number of emergencies, type of emergency, jurisdictions involved, number of victims, and responses required. Pre-planning is required to avoid delays that can be experienced due to complex emergencies.

Current Thinking

Many relief organizations view complex emergencies as mainly problems with the political and social order during and after a disaster event. This is supported by the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) handbook, which states that major challenges include coordination of response between all actors. The coordination is made difficult as the number of actors increase and as their political and social ambitions conflict. For example, existing governments conflict with rebel groups, leaving the relief efforts either waiting for permissions that never come, ...

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