Magazine article The Christian Century

`Crisis Junkies' Said to Hinder Disaster Aid

Magazine article The Christian Century

`Crisis Junkies' Said to Hinder Disaster Aid

Article excerpt

Small disaster relief agencies are more often harmful than helpful to international aid efforts, according to a World Health Organization representative, who called such agencies "crisis junkies."

"You see hundreds of small agencies turning up at the scenes of disasters," said Claude de Ville de Goyet, director of the organization's emergency preparedness and disaster relief coordination program in the Americas, in remarks to the London Sunday Telegraph. "Some of them pop up because there is money or because there is media coverage, which is emotionally appealing."

Those agencies overestimate their ability to help disaster-stricken areas, said de Ville de Goyet, often donating "unrequested, inappropriate and burdensome" clothing, medicines and packaged food while neglecting to support local relief efforts.

He also criticized governments that have provided relief support that did little to foster long-term growth in a disaster zone, and argued that money used to send helicopters to Mozambique in the wake of massive flooding in March could have had greater benefit if used to help flood victims restart their lives.

Western medical teams used up a large portion of the disaster funds but arrived too late to provide the critical medical care necessary in the first 24 hours after a disaster, and left too soon to tend the population's long-term needs, de Ville de Goyet said. …

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