Friday, April 28, 2006

US Senate Hurricane Katrina Report

The US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released its findings on Hurricane Katrina this week. The reports are fairly hard hitting and don't pull any punches. Good reading for any NGO security practitioner for a couple of reasons. (1) It exposes general breakdowns in command, operations, logistics and communication that could happen to any humanitarian effort, (2) it highlights safety and security issues that your staff may encounter if your organization responds to some future large-scale incident in the US.

Following the wake of Katrina, a number of large US NGOs are reevaluating thier position in responding to disasters within the United States. From being involved with the USG disaster response system over the past seven years, I can tell you it is very broken and is going to take considerable time and effort to fix. The take home message for NGOs is to be very sure you have your own safety and security measures in place for staff members. There's a tendency to think the government will take care of you, especially if the disaster is within US borders, however after being on the ground in New Orleans, I can tell you this may not always be the case.


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