5130.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000: 12:30 PM-2:00 PM

The Changing Nature of Humanitarian Assistance in Complex Emergencies

This panel will explore the evolving nature of humanitarian relief and the extent to which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are adapting to change. Complex emergencies have seemingly become a constant part of the international health environment, with important emergency relief activities having being conducted in Africa, the Americas, the Balkans, and Southeast Asia in the last few years. Although the technical nature of public health interventions in complex emergencies has remained essentially the same, the environment in which they are delivered is populated by new players and shaped by new conditions. This panel will address four important themes. 1) The role of military forces as partners in humanitarian assistance will be discussed. The strengths and weaknesses of the armed forces in providing effective relief will be outlined, as will the ability of the NGOs to remain 'neutral' and/or 'impartial' while cooperating with bilateral armed forces. 2) The ability of NGOs to provide effective relief using relatively inexperienced, low-paid 'expert' assistance will be reviewed, and ways of addressing the threat posed to the NGOs by increasing numbers of professional contractors will be presented. 3) The presumed synergy, but sometime antagonism of interactions between relief workers and human rights observers will be defined. The extent to which NGO workers are trained to 'witness' human rights abuses will be highlighted. 4) The need for further research into improved technical interventions aimed at rapidly reducing excess morbidity and mortality will be promoted
Learning Objectives:
Panelist(s):Jean-Francois Vidal
Joelle Tanguy, MD
Richard Brennan, MD,, MPH
Organizer(s):Ronald J. Waldman, MD, MPH
Sponsor:International Health
Cosponsors:Caucus on Refugee and Immigrant Health

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA