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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

Volume 12
Issue 1

Posted by Rhys Jones on 22nd August 2016 at 12:39pm

As usual, this edition spans emergency and disaster analysis, prevention, protection, preparedness, response and resilience.

Admittedly, it is equally morbidly fascinating and disturbing to see how crises intersect, conflating and exacerbating one another, spawning greater emergencies that appear simply beyond the scope of prevention or mitigation, sometimes leaving agencies seemingly powerless to respond effectively to their sheer scale and complexity. But how bad is the global situation?

After all, it is not beyond experts’ capabilities to predict, identify and categorise tomorrow’s most devastating disasters. Terrorism, natural catastrophes, conflict: This edition addresses and provides insight into all of the above.

At this time, we don’t have definitive statistics for 2016. But, despite the widely-held perception that terrorist attacks are increasing, the US State Department’s annual terrorism report notes a 13 per cent decrease in attacks in 2015, with 14 per cent fewer deaths. This year’s figures might be higher (page 52), and modus operandi may be shifting, but the line between criminality and terrorism has become blurred, and we must be wary of classifying all violent criminal acts as terrorism, as Christine Jessup warns (page 54).

Again, we know that natural disasters are on the rise. But Munich Re says last year saw a fall in losses from such catastrophes in terms of incidents, fatalities and in financial losses.

Granted, these figures are in no way cause for complacency; we are certain to face larger and more complex emergencies in the future. But there is an even greater lurking disaster, which CRJ has touched upon in past editions (Prof Steiner, CRJ 10:1); one that we can no longer afford to ignore. Deaths in a world without antibiotics could dwarf all other catastrophes, killing up to ten million people a year (page 26).

How sobering it is to reflect that, despite all our technological advances, prevention, co-operation and hard work in crises and disasters, an absence of antibiotics would not only claim more lives than climate, conflict and terrorism combined, but augment their effects immeasurably. Let’s hope that the high level UN meeting on this subject in September produces the unequivocal commitment that this smouldering global health emergency demands.

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