Natural Disaster and Armed Conflict - Challenges for Humanitarian Action the Case of Colombia

Topics: Humanitarian aid, Laws of war, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Pages: 8 (2462 words) Published: February 23, 2013
Aleksandra Suladze Iv.Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University Faculty of Social and Political Sciences

Natural disaster and armed conflict - Challenges for humanitarian action The case of Colombia Abstract The paper discusses humanitarian action in the case of complex emergences and natural disaster highlighting relation between them. Considering multiple security threats arisen in recent years in the world humanitarian response has become more demanding and difficult to implement. The paper elucidates challenges for humanitarian action as well (the denial of humanitarian access, abuses of main principles, problem of coordination and manipulation of humanitarian actors and etc.). The arguments and conclusions are based on the case study - situation in Colombia where natural disaster (floods) and its consequences are aggravated by armed conflict proceeding for years in the country.

Introduction A final peace and security in the world have not been achieved so far. International as well as internal conflicts still occur posing serious threats to human beings. Neither natural disasters have decreased in frequency and gravity especially in states with high level of vulnerability to them. Moreover, in some cases both natural disaster and armed violence take place at the same time, which makes situation more complicated and difficult to cope with. Examples showed that there is a great link between these two events related to the issue of risk reduction, allocation of recourses and so on


humanitrian action faces more difficult and complex challenges.

Esspecially when we talk about cases where natural disaster and armed conflicts take place simultaneously. To better understand the disscussion given below, first we should give some defition to the concepts in order to avoid misunderstangings . Thus, I will define main terms related to humanitarian action and emergencies then discuss limits and extents of humanitarian action. Defitions of related concepts When we speak about response of humantiarian actors, we mean humanitarian action rather than humanitarian assistance. Difference between those two concepts are important and basic. As humanitarian aid means response to ergent situations induced by man-made or natural disaster intending to save lives, alliviate suffering of a crisis affected people. Whereas humanitarian action is not only short term relief but it includes further steps and activities. Humanitarian action has long term objectives as well claiming to mitigate causing factors (preparadness and risk reduction, programmes for rehabilitation, restitution). As I have already mentioned humanitarian action may refer to both armed conflicts and natural disasters. According to the International Humanitarian law armed conflicts can be international (war among two or more states) and non-international (conflict where governmental forces are fighting against insurgents or armed groups fighting among themselfs). Nowdays internal conflict happens more often and it poses serious challenges for humanitarian actors. Humanitarian assistence is very importnant when disaster occurs as society is not able to deal with problems by own recources because of serious human, material, economic or environmental losses. As the paper discuss humanitarian action in complex emergencies, its important to define this term as well. Complex emergencies are political in nature. The official definition of it is given by OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) - ,, a humanitarian crisis where there is total or considerable breakdown of authority resulting from conflict and where multi-sectoral, international response is required that goes beyond The mandate or capacity of any single agency and/or the ongoing UN country programme." To look into details we can emphasize important features: there should be serious violence and significant damage to societies, where

the involvement of large scale humanitarian...
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