Refugee Care: Pre-Emergency Phase
March 4th, 2022 by Nicholas Comninellis
This winter I am teaching the INMED International Refugee Care Course. In January and February, we explored the notable crises in Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, and surrounding nations. 12 days ago, as hundreds of thousands of women and children fled Ukraine, an INMED learner remarked with angst, “My gosh, we are seeing a refugee crisis unfold in real time!”
Refugee crises, sadly, have to become so pervasive that an entire discipline has been created to equip leaders in refugee care. In these coming weeks, we will explore the four recognized phases: Pre-Emergency, Emergency, Maintenance, and Resolution.
The first phase is Pre-Emergency. This is when we see potential danger and take decisive action to mitigate the risk that vulnerable people will be forced from their homes. Think back to the rhetoric between Russia, Ukraine, and world leaders during the months of January and February 2022. Threats were exchanged. Mediators were engaged. Offers were floated. Promises were made.
Indeed, the pre-emergency phase calls for diligent observation to identify hazardous situations and immediately intervene with negotiation and mitigation. Organizations like the International Crisis Group, Carter Center, and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute purposely monitor and mobilize to such hazards. The United Nations itself was founded with the mission of “the maintenance of international peace and security.”
The pre-emergency phase is also the time to organize humanitarian responders, position supplies, and develop action plans. Because if negotiation fails, conflict ensues, and people flee for safety, we now enter into the Emergency Phase.