Complex humanitarian emergencies: Security issues with international public health response

The suicide car bombing of the Baghdad headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (JCRC) in October 2003 underscored the vulnerability of humanitarian and relief organizations that operate in areas of violent conflict. Since the end of the Cold War, complex humanitarian emergencies have become an increasing priority for NGOs and global health activists around the world. Over the past 10 years as the international public health community has taken a more active role in assisting post-conflict countries, re-establishing their damaged, often ill-equipped or non-existent health care infrastructure, the issues of vulnerability and the lack of security of the public health system have become hurdles and even barriers to relief efforts world wide. A study published in 2000 by Sheik, et al in the British Journal of Medicine listed 67% of all humanitarian-worker deaths as a result of the increase in international violence.