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Crisis in humanitarianism?
  1. J Brownscombe
  1. Correspondence to:
 J Brownscombe
 Turning point Alcohol and Drug Centre, 54–62 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065, Australia;

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The response of the international community to humanitarian crises is not based on humanitarian needs alone

Humanitarian crises carry massive human costs. Media exposure may lead to increased advocacy and awareness and strengthen the response of the international community. However, when this does not occur, indifference or neglect may result. Our perceptions of and reactions to large scale human suffering are complex and biased. A deeper analysis of them may allow us to correct flaws in political processes, achieve greater compassion and equity in our global relationships, and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of those affected by natural disasters and civil strife.

Most of us have sat in our living rooms and watched dramatic television images of large scale human suffering. The emotional response they generate fulfils an important role. It raises collective awareness of the situation and the demand for a tangible political and logistical response from governments and aid agencies.1,2 However, as this process occurs we unconsciously become part of a wider set of injustices. Across the globe many other crises are occurring, of similar or greater magnitude, but they go largely ignored simply because they do not make it to our television screens. We must …

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