[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
April 20, 2005

Differences in World Responses to Natural Disasters and Complex Emergencies

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Spiegel is Senior Technical Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland.

JAMA. 2005;293(15):1915-1918. doi:10.1001/jama.293.15.1915

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.

First Page Preview View Large
First page PDF preview
First page PDF preview