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Role of humanitarian disaster affected state

Published : Tuesday, 29 December, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 204
Muhammad Saiful Islam

Role of humanitarian disaster affected state

Role of humanitarian disaster affected state

According to UN Humanitarian Resolution 46/182 of 1991, the primary responsibility of the affected state is to initiate, organize, coordinate and implement the humanitarian assistance within its jurisdiction. The first guiding principle of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 which is endorsed by UN General Assembly  advocates 'Each State has the primary responsibility to prevent and reduce disaster risk, including through international, regional, sub regional, trans-boundary and bilateral cooperation'. Simultaneously, most of the states are signatories and rectifiers of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which advocates certain rights related to food, health, shelter, security and so on.

It goes without saying that the importance of planning in the case of humanitarian disaster response is immense. There must be a contingency plan with Standing Order on Disaster (SOD) prepared and approved by a group of experienced fellows and be implemented by disaster management committees instantly.

Coordination is an undeniable activity for disaster response. State should take the leadership role to arrange coordination at different levels, for example, local, regional, national or international. It is mentionable that in the case of dealing with the latest Rohingya influx and settlement in Cox's Bazar, the coordination within and among different government agencies, UN agencies, local NGOs and communities evidenced the success of the coordination. If the state lacks the capacity to coordinate in the case of high profile humanitarian disaster, the responsibility can be delivered. For instance, OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) had taken the lead in overall coordination of humanitarian agencies in the case of Tsunami (2004) in Indonesia. Importantly, language becomes a key barrier to participate in coordination and cluster meetings effectively. So, state should engage the officials having good skills in English.

The state is expected to pave the way for proper civil-military coordination to respond any disaster. Truly, military forces have a wide range of logistical support and expertise and they can play vital role. However, sometimes it is observed that there are conflicts or misunderstanding between them as they work in different superior professional fields. But, this difficulty can be overcome if there are simulations and trainings together at a regular basis.

The importance of favourable legislation in disaster response is indisputable. State is supposed to play significant role for international relief efforts by simplifying the process in issuing visa and clearing customs for the delivery of service to the survivors. However, it is widely held view that some strive to misuse the facilitation of the legislation. So, state is required to take punitive action against those offenders.

State is required to figure out the costs of the disaster and be clear cut about the capacity of its own. If necessary, state ought to declare the 'Crisis' and call for international aid. It should communicate and realize the expectations and thus facilitate with other partners like UN agencies, other states too. Here, the challenge comes when the disasters occur in politically sensitive or disputable areas like Kashmir of India/Pakistan or Rakhine province of Myanmar. But decisions need to be taken on humanitarian ground.

Role of humanitarian disaster affected state

Role of humanitarian disaster affected state

It is obviously very crucial to maintain the security of the survivors and service providers in the humanitarian disaster field. So, state must ensure the presence of military or police to keep the order. In addition, any leaks in gas or power or any other lines can create more disastrous effects. State should ensure special response team for the identification of potential threats. It is necessary to think about that humanitarian aid distribution often becomes undisciplined as the supply may be less than the demand.

Security is also vital for upholding the rights to 'Protection'. But practically, it is very difficult to promote all the rights immediately after the disaster. State is obliged to ensure rights related to physical security and integrity and rights related to basic necessities of life. To materialize, a state had better raise awareness among the concerned to be careful. It can also take measures for arranging complaint handling mechanisms in the affected area. In addition, traffic system should be developed with additional manpower and logistic support so that there is no obstruction in service delivery. Restriction should be maintained in the affected area.

A state must ensure life saving supports like food, cloth, blankets, medicines, non food items, water, and shelter etc to distribute among the survivors for decreasing the vulnerability through proper policy. But cash money support is also crucial for the purpose. For instance, a child may desperately want a particular chocolate, an old may need a particular medicine, an adult girl may require sanitary pad and so on.

A state should have far-sighted plan in helping survivors to have access to a safe land. The decision of selecting the site needs to be taken considering many issues like health, water, environment, communication and so on. If once settled, it becomes very difficult to shift them to another place for resettlement. It is also expected that state would monitor the activities of different agencies working under its jurisdiction whether it is donated by the state or any other donor country regarding any sort of assistance.

In armed conflict, state would ensure that their forces are not violating Geneva Conventions. There must be distinction between combatants and civilians. The prisoners of war, medical staff, injured soldiers; civilians should be dealt with dignity, respect and humanity. State is required to ensure that each individual soldier complies with the applicable elements of International Humanitarian Law in the field.

State must involve with the proper and dignified management of human remains which is an important aspect of humanitarian disaster response. As far as possible, it ought to facilitate for the storage and disposal including proper identification of dead bodies according to the 'Management of Dead Bodies after Disasters: A Field Manual for First Responders' by ICRC. State may support for the transportation of dead body as far as possible.
The writer is a Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), Teknaf, Cox's Bazar

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