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Historical Overview and terms of Humanitarian Relief

Historical Overview and terms of Humanitarian Relief

Humanitarian action is as old as humanity. People sharing and helping other people, whether they are families, neighbors, or tribes across the river, had been part of human history since the beginning. Beyond individual philanthropic aids, a group form of caring action started to become commonly centered around religious institutions. Christians and Jews contribute “tithe,” one tenth of their income to help the poor while Muslims use “zakat” to provide for the needs of the poor. As the society became more complex and intensified with various social and political conflicts, the form of philanthropic action has gone through a major shift. It has become more “organized” and systematized to increase its effectiveness. This trend became widespread cultural practices in the 20th century as an aftermath of a series of world wars that had left great devastation and despair to many lives around the world. In fact, the term NGO (non-governmental organization) came into currency at the end of WWII in an effort to distinguish the difference between intergovernmental specialized agencies and private organizations. Gaining recognition of joined effort under officialized organizations, they have developed different terms to highlight different aspect(s) of the operation. According to René Wagemans in his teaching curriculum “Humanitarian Relief Operations,” he stratified the concept of the action:

· Disaster Relief: The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence defines disaster relief as “the organized response to alleviate the results of a catastrophe. The aims are to: save life; relieve suffering; limit damage; restore essential services to a level that enables local authorities to cope; and set the conditions for recovery.”

· Disaster Relief Operation (DRO): The UK Ministry of Defence defines a DRO “as a primary Military Task and contribution to a disaster relief response. It provides specific assistance to an afflicted overseas population. Disaster Relief is a specified Military Task categorized as a Contingent Operation Overseas in Defence Strategic Guidance (DSG).”

· Emergency Relief is “the immediate survival assistance to the victims of crisis and violent conflict. Most relief operations are initiated on short notice and have a short implementation period (project objectives are generally completed within a year). The main purpose of emergency relief is to save lives.”

· Humanitarian action “provides life-saving services and facilitates the return to normalcy for people and communities affected by natural and man-made disasters. It also seeks to lessen the destructive impact of disasters and complex emergencies. Humanitarian response is guided by the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence, which provide a common framework for organizations involved in humanitarian action.”

· Humanitarian action “comprises assistance, protection and advocacy in response to humanitarian needs resulting from natural hazards, armed conflict or other causes, or emergency response preparedness. It aims to save lives and reduce suffering in the short term, and in such a way as to preserve people’s dignity and open the way to recovery and durable solutions to displacement. Humanitarian action is based on the premise that human suffering should be prevented and alleviated wherever it happens (referred to as the ‘humanitarian imperative’).”

· Humanitarian assistance is generally accepted to mean the aid and action designed to “save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and after man-made crises and disasters caused by natural hazards, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for when such situations occur.”

· Humanitarian Assistance is “[a]id that seeks … to save lives and alleviate suffering of a crisis-affected population. Humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the basic humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality, as stated in General Assembly Resolution 46/182. In addition, the UN seeks to provide humanitarian assistance with full respect for the sovereignty of States.”

· Humanitarian Intervention is “a doctrine generally understood to mean coercive action by States involving the use of armed force in another State without the consent of its government, with or without authorization from the UN Security Council, for the purpose of preventing or putting to a halt gross and massive violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The UN’s operations in Northern Iraq and Somalia, and NATO’s operation in Kosovo have all been termed humanitarian intervention.”

· Humanitarian Operations are conducted to relieve human suffering, especially in circumstances where responsible authorities in the area are unable or unwilling to provide adequate service support to civilian populations.

· Emergency Response is “the immediate and appropriate action to save lives, ensure protection, and restore the wellbeing of refugees.”

Distinguishing the nature of work with various terms encourages philanthropists to specialize in the effort, thus, increase more opportunities for cooperation among organizations. As Life Reset freshly launching this noble effort, our vision set to target between humanitarian action and humanitarian assistance. Providing “life-saving services” to a North Korean defector who may be wondering in a third country without knowing when he/she can be caught to be placed and tortured in a labor concentration is imperative; we will be restless until we “alleviate suffering” and restore the God-endowed dignity to that individual.

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