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Thursday, May 28, 2015


One month ago today, Nepal was struck with a 7.5 magnitude earthquake: destroying homes, businesses, villages, and consequently the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of Nepalese people. The Guardian's recent publication: "Nepal one month after the quake: ' The emotional impact has been devastating", spells-out in great detail the impact the quake has had on the locals. Sam Jones, who is the author, tells a compelling story about a woman's initial fright while her home and the buildings around her crumbled by the shock. How, when a community is devastated by disaster, the people can come together to support one-another. However, while they can support each other emotionally, help is urgently needed by the international community.   

The UN estimates that while international aid has started to arrive, 1.4 million dollars is needed to supply food, water, and other necessities to the many effected within the 39 districts, including the 11 districts that were most severely hurt.

Financial help is of great importance, yet many fail to realize - or at the very least, do not discuss it at great lengths - the impact on mental health of displaced victims of natural disasters. This crucial step in the identification of mental health  is the focus within Nilamadhab Kar's study: "Natural Disasters In Developing Countries: Mental Health Issues".

It is suggested by Kar, cultural differences regarding the perception of stress, resilience and coping are well known. These factors also effect the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity following such disasters. Kar's study brings to light a previous study by Telles et al., which suggests that acute psychological effects, specifically the risk of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and depression, were found to be more prevalent within the elderly population who had lived through a natural or man-made disaster. Elderly people, according to Kar, are one of the most vulnerable groups for post-disaster psychiatric morbidity.  

After the Tsunami disaster in the Andamans, in the early post-disaster phases, significant mental health problems were recorded. Similarly, 3 months after Orissa super-cyclone, 50% of the victims were reported of having post-traumatic stress symptoms. Further, long-term post-disaster studies in India  have also reported a considerable amount of psychiatric morbidity in the victims, comprising mostly of post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Kar goes on to suggest that observations of the study by Telles et al. reemphasize that systematic screenings of the victims in the disaster-affected areas are preferable to routine clinical evaluation. Otherwise many victims may suffer in silence, rather than seek psychological help, due to the cultural stigma attached to mental health. It is also suggested that while it is pertinent to conduct post-disaster studies, arranging such studies can be difficult considering the ground realities in the immediate aftermath of disasters. Yet, data-gathering should be an integral part of disaster relief and support work, which will improve overall knowledge for better care of victims of natural and man-made disasters.

Donations for the relief efforts in Nepal can be given to the Red Cross or any of the many other organizations providing help on the ground.  

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Sunday, May 03, 2015


The recent earthquake that rocked Nepal is a tragedy, to say the least. In some cases where a natural disaster has left cities in ruins, the government is quick to act and rebuild. However, according to Sam Jones - who is the author of a recent article published by the Guardian - and her interviewee, Katie Peters, governments should not be quick when rebuilding. Rather, they should take more time and plan so new infrastructure can withstand such environmental disasters. Such disasters are inevitable, Jones reiterates.

Jones goes onto mention the issue of the millions of displaced locals-turned-migrants from such disasters. Approximately 1.5 million people from Haiti were displaced due to the tragic earthquake in 2010 and while funding from the international community is important, Jones suggests that the funds should be allocated locally. Doing so, makes the process more sustainable and lessens the dependence of such extensive funding in the future.

Pourhameshi et al., in their journal: "Analyzing the individual and social rights condition of climate change refugees from the international environmental law perspective" take on this complex issue of climate change displacement more specifically. While Jones may be correct when emphasizing the importance of a more sustainable development plan. Pourhameshi et al. focus more attention on the countries taking in refugees. With emphasis being placed on the inefficiencies and the lack of rights being provided to each individual migrant, they are - according the Pourhameshi et al. - deprived of the most essential human rights, such as a healthy living environment. Currently, the legal administration has not made the necessary contingencies for responding to the environmental consequences of immigration and is extremely inefficient in expanding this phenomenon.

The journal seeks to address the question: To what extent can existing forms of legal and operational protection be applied in climate change-related displacement, in general, as well as cross-border displacement, in particular. Further, the authors seek to provide a better insight, so as to address the gaps and inefficiencies within the governments providing safe-haven to migrants. It is expected that analyzing these gaps and determining the international community's duties and commitments - both governments and international organizations - can result in a more efficient management of the crisis and prevent contagion of chaos globally. 

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