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Natural disasters know no boundaries: every nation on every continent is subject to the forces of nature. Individuals affected by such disasters will always need both physical and emotional support.
Unfortunately, much of the world is also affected by man-made disasters, including war, terrorism, and gross human rights abuses. Also unfortunately, the reverberations of both natural and man-made disasters is often more severe in poor regions because of political instability and their lack of resources with which to address the disaster. To provide a rough idea of the different kind of emergencies and disasters are ongoing in 2005, consider this:
• Africa: Recent and current emergencies include both drought and floods, outbreaks of plague and cholera, general storm damage, and complex emergencies such as ongoing war and civil unrest, creating internal displacement, large numbers of refugees, abandoned or orphaned children, and human rights violations.
• Asia: countries affected by the tsunami continue to try to recover and face ongoing earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and storms. Ongoing political turmoil in many countries, including Afghanistan, creates displacement and movement of populations that both undermine stability and create humanitarian strains.
• South America: earthquakes and storms are natural disasters that have huge impacts on large populations. While political stability in the region has improved, people still struggle, and disasters and emergencies can undo much of the progress that has been made by putting people in dire straits.
• Eastern and Central Europe: emerging economies continue to deal with nationalist conflicts and the after-effects of war. In the Americas, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, mudslides, wildfires and severe winter weather kill and leave homeless thousands of people each year.
• The United States: also continues to grapple with the implications of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the potential for other man-made disasters.
As you can see, emergencies and disasters can hit anywhere, anytime. If for no other reason than that, it makes sense to think about how you can contribute to disaster relief and recovery efforts.