Author Affiliation: Dr Spiegel is Senior Technical
Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland.
The massive tsunami that affected 11 countries over 2 continents, killed
approximately 220 000 people, and made millions of others destitute1 is a tragedy that deserves all of the media attention,
funds, and response it has received. The current crises in Darfur, Sudan,
and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among others, deserve the same,
but are not getting it. Why does a natural disaster invoke such a heartfelt
and generous response from the news media, governments, United Nations (UN)
agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private and public
sectors, whereas complex emergencies do not? The answer is relatively straightforward—response
to natural disaster is easier and less politically risky.
Spiegel PB. Differences in World Responses to Natural Disasters and Complex Emergencies. JAMA. 2005;293(15):1915-1918. doi:10.1001/jama.293.15.1915