Responding to Natural Disasters
Over the past six months, several large-scale natural disasters have wreaked havoc across the globe, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing millions more. From the Japanese tsunami to the mass flooding in Colombia to the tornadoes and floods in the United States, disasters have taken a deadly toll in both developed and developing countries. While the world continues to experience an upswing in natural disasters, relief organizations and governments are scurrying to react effectively to an already overwhelmed humanitarian response system.
On June 1, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement (IDP) hosted a discussion exploring the challenges humanitarian agencies and governments face as they respond to an increasing number of deadly natural disasters each year. Elizabeth Ferris, Brookings senior fellow and IDP co-director who returned from Tokyo prior to the event, discussed the response to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Alice Thomas, the climate displacement program manager at Refugees International, addressed the mass flooding in Colombia and Donna Derr, director of development and humanitarian assistance at Church World Service, spoke to the devastating domestic tornadoes and flooding thus far this spring. The Brookings-LSE Project also launched its new report, “A Year of Living Dangerously: A Review of Natural Disasters in 2010.”
Senior Director of International Response and Programs at the American Red Cross, Nan Buzard, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, the panelists took audience questions.
I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.