Emergency


Overview

“Emergency” forms part of a set of words with similar but distinct meanings, including “crisis” and “disaster”, which describe situations that humanitarian actors typically “respond” to. The types of emergencies frequently referred to in the document collection include general “humanitarian” emergencies, as well as “complex”, “large-scale”,  “major” or “new” emergencies, and “public health”, “health” or “medical” emergencies. Humanitarian documents also refer to a variety of emergency interventions and responses, including “preparedness”, “assistance”, “management”, “relief”, “appeal”, “aid”, “shelter” and “food”.

Questions

  • What is the difference, if any, between the concepts of “emergency”, “crisis” and “disaster”?
  • Emergency implies urgency and sudden onset, but is also often used in connection with “slow-onset”. What is the difference between a sudden and slow-onset emergency?
  • Explaining its work with neglected people, MSF argues “the word emergency conjures images of large-scale disasters, such as earthquakes or war. But a large part of MSF’s work focuses on providing care in hidden emergencies, which, while receiving little media coverage, can be just as serious.” Why do you think some emergencies make headlines, while others are hidden or neglected? What can be done to improve the visibility of people in need of emergency assistance?
  • Preparedness and emergency response are closely related. How can being better prepared improve emergency response? Why do humanitarian organisations struggle with preparedness? How can local governments, civil society and international actors work better in emergency preparedness and response? 

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Please note: The overview on this page represents a first summary and exploratory analysis of the concept, proposed by the HE core team for discussion, on the basis of preliminary linguistic data. It is not the full concept entry which will be based on rigorous linguistic methodology and collaboration with humanitarian practitioners and experts.

Coming soon: Expanded concept explanations, visualisations and analysis for this and 17 other COVID-19 related concepts.

Emergency has appeared with consistent frequency over time in the past ten years.

The usage of the concept appears more frequently in publications from regions that typically provide international humanitarian assistance, compared to countries that typically receive it.

The usage of the concept appears more frequently in publications from regions that typically provide international humanitarian assistance, compared to countries that typically receive it.

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