Human Diversity and Special Needs

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Natural disasters and relative emergencies play an integral role in informing the society about the degree of resilience of the affected population. Social research ascertains the fact that disasters impact differently on diverse segments of populations that constitute the society. Usually, the weak suffer adverse effects as compared to their strong counterparts. The degree of resilience of a given person(s) can be attributed to a host of factors. These are not only economic and political in nature but they are also social, cultural and environmental. They increase the vulnerabilities of the populations and determine the response of a given population to a disaster. In most cases, they prevent the respective populations from not only accessing vital help during disasters but they also make it difficult for such populations to access vital resources that are essential for recovery.

In order to limit the negative effects that are associated with disasters as well as enhance response and recovery of populations to the given disaster, intervention measures need to lay great emphasis on particular aspects that usually increase the vulnerabilities of populations. It is in this consideration that this paper provides an exhaustive review of the impact of wars, genocide and terrorism to different minority populations such as children, elderly persons, the disabled, ethnic minorities and political refugees. To enhance coherence, it begins by providing a concise analysis of wars, genocides and terrorism as disasters. Then, it evaluates the diverse impacts of these on specific minority populations that tend to be more susceptible to the negative effects associated with these than the respect of the populations.

War, Genocide and Terrorism

Wars, genocides and terrorism are forms of armed conflicts that cause adverse effects on different segments of the society. The consequences are far reaching and undermine the worth of different populations. In addition, they impact on their holistic welfare including their physical and psychological wellbeing. Regardless of the fact that the entire society suffers immense effects, certain populations that are particularly vulnerable suffer most. The sensitivity that is associated with this makes it difficult for the respective populations to access critical emergency services that are fundamental for recovery. In certain instances, their status and position in the society increases their vulnerability to suffering and maltreatment from the rest of the society.

Wars, genocide and terrorism usually stem from conflicts and have far reaching implications on the holistic welfare of the society. Current trends indicate that they are usually caused by unequal resource distribution, environmental degradation, free flow of small arms and poverty amongst others. Notably, these can be effectively addressed by different governments and leaders that are responsible for resource distribution, conflict resolution and punishment of perpetrators. The fact that the frequency and magnitude of the armed conflicts has increased significantly implies that the society is increasingly suffering detrimental effects. These undermine their quality of life in different ways. Essentially, effects of armed conflicts include loss of lives, destruction of livelihoods, poverty, destruction of important social infrastructure like learning institutions, negative psychosocial effects such as post traumatic stress disorder, stress and depression.

As indicated earlier, it is imperatively important for relevant stakeholders to undertake different intervention measures in order to reduce the negative impact of wars, genocides and terrorism. This is instrumental in alienating physical and psychological suffering of populations and ultimately enhancing their quality of life. Likewise, intervention measures are wide and varied and involve different parties. This is essential in enhancement of sustainability that is vital in curbing a repeat of the disasters. Specific measures include environmental reconstruction, equal distribution of resources, timely punishment of perpetrators of relative crimes such as politicians, education and awareness creation about the causes, impacts and prevention of wars, genocides and terrorism, regulation of manufacture of small arms and assumption of vital emergency services. Emergency services include availing timely medical care to the victims and educating the public about the nature of the disasters and measures that can be undertaken to reduce their impacts on different factions of the society.

Lessons that can be learnt from this disasters include the importance of enhancing timely medical care to the affected population; the need to inform the society about the causes, impacts and the prevention of disasters and the benefits of involving the society in different stages of resource distribution and policy formulation.

Children and Acute Stressors

Children are a vulnerable faction of the society that suffers immense impacts in cases of wars, genocide and terrorism. This is because they lack the physical and intellectual capability to protect themselves against the dangers associated with wars, genocides and terrorism. Also worth mentioning is the fact that they are easily manipulated by the adults for their selfish interests during such times. In his review, Nangengast (1994) indicates that during armed conflicts, children are actively involved both directly and indirectly. Directly, children are in some instances recruited as child soldiers. In addition, they play augmenting roles such as sex slaves, fighters, messengers, cooks and so forth. Sexual abuse in particular leads to various psychological problems and in some instances death. Development studies ascertain that violent environments have adverse effects on all aspects of child development.

Physically, such children suffer several injuries and loss of body parts like sight and limbs. Coupled with lack of important social amenities, this culminates in long term suffering (Brubaker & Laitin, 1998). Psychologically, these children suffer from stress and depression as a result of being orphaned at a tender age. Notably, this has negative impacts on their growth as they lack adults that are responsible for providing for their basic needs. Constant exposure to violence, insecurity and deprivation of basic needs culminates in the development of a wide range of psychological disorders. These include post traumatic stress disorder, survivor syndrome, war neurosis, concentration camp syndrome and combat exhaustion syndrome. These comprise of various symptoms such as sleep disturbance, undue fatigue, diminished memory to changes of mood and poor concentration.

Lack of vital medical care for the children also makes it difficult for them to receive timely medical attention. During disasters such as wars, Laquer (1996) indicate that health facilities seldom have sufficient resources to cater for the primary and emergent medical needs of the children. They are left to endure long term suffering and in some cases, death. Cultural norms have also been identified by Liquer (1996) to be key contributors to the suffering that children endure during as well as after wars, genocide and terrorism. In this respect, it is argued that certain cultural norms especially in reserved communities prescribe that adults need to be given a priority to access vital services such as health and education during such situation. The struggle of children to have an access during such times is usually regarded as lack of respect for the adults and elderly members of the society. In such cases, children are prevented from benefiting from these services. In most traditional societies, the adults were usually preferred during wars on the premise that they would after all be able to have more children. Such misguiding societal perceptions further complicate the efforts geared towards helping this special group.

Certainly, various measures need to be undertaken to address the specific needs of children during armed conflicts. Brubaker and Laitin (1998) cite that international bodies and United Nations agencies need to actively participate in different rescue measures in order to ease suffering of children. In order to enhance sustainability, these need to be in liaison with local nongovernmental organization and support groups that understand and appreciate the various factors that contribute to the given state of affairs.  With regard to child soldiers, Brubaker and Laitin (1998) indicate that the civil society and other stakeholders need to pursue quiet diplomacy with nonprofit oriented organizations and government forces by encouraging demobilization of affected children and strict adherence to relative policies such as the Convention of the Rights of Children that supports their welfare.

Of great importance would be for respective governments to equip their health facilities with relevant resources to cater for the needs of the children during such periods. Coupled with effective rescue operations, this would go a long way in enhancing the welfare of children. In his research, Nangengast (1994) argues that the media can also play an important role of bringing to the fore the various concerns about children. This would possibly attract aid from different agencies that address the diverse needs of the children.  Further, the media can participate actively in advocating for the rights of the children during wars, genocides and terrorism.  Perhaps the most important measure would be to educate the children about the causes, impacts and prevention of the respective disasters. This would go a long way in preventing their occurrence in future.

The Older Adults

These are usually also susceptible to the negative impacts of war, genocide and terrorism during incidences of armed conflicts. This is partly contributed to by the fact that they are undergoing significant life changes during such times. In their study, Waugh, Robins, Davies and Janet (2007) cite that armed conflicts often change and alter the timing of important normal life events of this segment of the population. In particular, aspects of health decline and retirement are negatively impacted upon during disasters. This significantly reduces the ability of this population to cope with the disaster and recover in a timely and effective manner. UN (2005) indicates that this population is in some instances is charged with the responsibility of providing protection to the younger generation. The lack of vital resources during disasters exposes them to immense trauma that further compounds their fragile health. Likewise, lack of vital resources to effectively address their health needs makes it difficult for them to respond positively to the devastating impacts of the war.

The need to succumb to untimely transitions such as loss of financial resources, early widowhood, displacement and forced retirement according to Waugh et al (2007) reduces the coping capacity of such populations and further predisposes them to high mortality rates. In some cases, they also fail to provide themselves with personal protection because of critical health complications. In such cases, this culminates in death and immense physical and psychological suffering. They particularly suffer psychological impacts such as stress, depression and post traumatic stress disorder because of the exposure to violence and insecurity. This is further compounded by the fact that they are in some instances forced to experience the death of their spouses, relatives and children. Indeed, the pain they experienced can be considered to be immense.

UN (2005) indicates that minimal attention is usually accorded this population on the prete.............

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