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Elizabeth Ferris - Future Directions in Civil-Military Responses to Natural Disasters


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Presentation at CMIS11 by Elizabeth Ferris, Co-Director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement.

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Elizabeth Ferris - Future Directions in Civil-Military Responses to Natural Disasters

  1. 1. Future Directions in Civil- Military Responses to Natural Disasters By Elizabeth FerrisCo-Director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement
  2. 2. 1Over the last ten years, natural disasters affected more than 2.4 billion people – the equivalent of one-third of the earth‟s population – and they have wrought over USD 910 billion in damages – equivalent to approximately 16% of global GDP. “Our World, Your Move. Disaster Laws: discussion paper.” Prepared for 31st International Conference of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Geneva, 28 Nov-1 Dec 2011. L’Aquila Earthquake, 2009 (AP)
  3. 3. 2The Big Picture: NaturalDisasters in the FutureWhat we know:• There is likely to be an increase in intensity and severity of climate-related sudden-onset natural disasters• There will probably be an increase in slow-onset disasters• Increasing vulnerability due to urbanization and mega- trends of population growth Rescue workers evacuate stranded people Farmland abandoned in Victoria, Australia as during Hurricane Katrina, 2005 (NYTimes) a result of drought, 2006 (Kenins)
  4. 4. 3Increasing Number of Natural Disasters
  5. 5. 4•But…how natural is natural?•How sudden is sudden?•What does it mean to be „affected‟ bynatural disasters?•Mega-disasters and cascading disasters
  6. 6. 5What we know:• In 90% of disasters, fewer than 50 people are killed• The intersection of disasters with conflict creates particular difficulties in response• Humanitarian system is likely to come under increasing strain as scale and intensity of natural disasters increase Chinese doctors in Haiti, 2010 (Xinhua)
  7. 7. 6The International Humanitariansystem: weaknesses » lack of command and control system » proliferation of actors » difficulties in coordination with affected government and local civil society » role of media in triggering response » inequities in financing response and prevention » more fundamental questions about whether the present humanitarian ‘business model’ works UNCHR staff load supplies for cyclone victims in Myanmar, 2008 (UNCHR)
  8. 8. 7Five observations on civ-mil relationsin natural disaster response1: The military will increasingly be called to respond to sudden-onset natural disasters both at home and abroad.2: Generally there are fewer politicaltensions in civ-mil relations in naturaldisasters than in conflict settings. • Military expertise / capacity is recognized • Perceptions of national military • Complementarity of roles is still a challenge American troops land at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince (Reuters)
  9. 9. 8 Five observations on civ-mil relations in natural disaster response 3: International actors (military or civilian) aren’t – and perhaps can’t be – fast enough in immediate response. 4: In 3 phases of disaster management (prevention, response, recovery), military’s role is most needed and accepted in response, least in recovery.National Guard soldiers work search-and-rescuemissions in Missouri following the 2011 tornado Firefighters carry out a body from the rubble(Ann Keyes) of the L’Aquila earthquake, 2009 (AP)
  10. 10. 9Five observations on civ-mil relationsin natural disaster response5: Preparedness: what can be done before a disaster that facilitates disaster response? » Contingency planning & coordination structures » Legal preparedness » TrustA man is detained by police who accused him oflooting from the destroyed Interior Ministry after Chinese soldiers carry supplies to survivors ofthe earthquake in Haiti (NYTimes) the Sichuan earthquake, 2008 (Getty)
  11. 11. 10Five challenges in future response tonatural disastersChallenge 1: Responding to urban disasters Amid the ruins of Port-au-Prince following the earthquake in Haiti (NYTimes)
  12. 12. 11 Five challenges in future response to natural disasters Challenge 2: Responding to disasters in developed countriesForest fire in Tonimbuk township in Victoria, Australia 2009 (EPA) An area in northeastern Japan hat had been swept by the tsunami (Reuters)
  13. 13. 12Five challenges in future response tonatural disastersChallenge 3: When disasters occur in conflict zones People inspected debris after Typhoon Megi tore through San Jose in the Philippines in 2010 (Getty)
  14. 14. 13Five challenges in future response tonatural disastersChallenge 4: When natural and technological disasters overlap Japanese evacuees from near the Fukusima Nuclear Power Plant receive radiation scans after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami (Getty Images)
  15. 15. 14Five challenges in future response tonatural disastersChallenge 5: Taking local capacity seriously Flood victims using a cable car to flee the Chakdara region in Pakistan in 2010 (European Press)
  16. 16. THANK YOU