Although disasters are quick to strike, their consequences can linger for months and years. In disasters, responders did not always think through how human rights may be affected by their interventions. All too often the human rights of disaster victims are not sufficiently taken into account. These violations could be avoided if both national and international actors took the relevant human rights guarantees into account from the beginning. Thus, there is a need to raise awareness and implement human rights approaches through guidelines.
The guidelines focus on what humanitarian actors should do to implement a human rights-based approach to humanitarian action in natural disasters. Human rights are the legal underpinnings of all humanitarian work in to natural disasters.
The guidelines consist of three parts:
1) Part one explains the notion and implications of human rights protection in situations of natural disaster and the meaning of a human rights-based approach to disaster relief
2) Part two presents the main human rights principles relevant in situations of natural disaster, and how to implement them
3) Part three addresses the special rights and needs of vulnerable groups, for example: women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities
In recognition of the growing impact of natural disasters, both large-scale and those that do not make the headlines but nonetheless have a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of developing countries, the IASC partners have compiled a tool for in-country partners to assess their level of preparedness, identify priority areas to address with regular or specific programmes and/or to establish a Disaster Management Team (or a similar IASC-partnership wide body). The purpose of this tool is to encourage IASC in-country teams to embark on a process that will gradually increase their capacities to respond to the challenge of providing host governments with prompt, effective and concerted country-level support in disaster preparedness and response.
Ten areas of preparedness were identified at the formulation stage as critical elements of a good response preparedness plan: 1) Inventory of national capacities, allowing the IASC in-country team to determine the legal and institutional framework, national strengths and weaknesses 2) IASC in-country team awareness 3) Hazard identification, monitoring and warning 4) Vulnerability assessment 5) Contingency planning 6) IASC in-country capacity inventory: human, financial and material resources 7) Logistics/IT/Communication 8) Partnerships 9) Coordination arrangements 10) Human resources and training requirements
The factors contributing to the crisis in Southern Africa are numerous and vary from country to country. They include: drought, floods, disruptions to commercial farming, depletion of strategic grain reserves, poor economic performance, foreign exchange shortages and delays in the timely importation of maize. Inadequate food supply and consumption places an even greater strain on those affected by HIV/AIDS and the family members struggling to care for them. HIV/AIDS increases household vulnerability to food insecurity by disproportionately affecting working age people and reduces the amount and quality of land cultivated as well as incomes and purchasing power for those employed in other sectors. It also adds to the disease burden (tuberculosis, cholera and others) that the population faces along with the food insecurity.
In their statement, the IASC express their commitment to work with affected Governments and regional partners on multi-sectoral assessments of needs, the design of appropriate response strategies and in ensuring effective coordination of all interventions including logistics related to the delivery of urgently needed relief cargo.
During the 1992/1993 humanitarian emergency in Somalia, hundreds of thousands of lives were saved thanks to the massive relief operations undertaken by United Nations organisations, intergovernmental organisations under the security protection of Unified Task Force (UNITAF) and United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) forces.
The United Nations organisations working in Somalia reconfirm their commitment to continue to the maximum extent possible emergency and rehabilitation activities even beyond the expiration of the UNOSOM mandate.