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  May 1999    

UNU/WIDER releases Complex Humanitarian Emergencies policy brief
Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (CHEs) have caused widespread death and suffering throughout the world over the past two decades. But while the recent tragedies in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Angola have made the world more aware of the terrible human toll involved, the international community has yet to develop effective policy responses to stem such crises. The formulation of strategies to prevent or effectively respond to CHEs is one of today's most important challenges.

In March 1999, the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER) released a policy brief on "Social and Economic Policies to Prevent Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Lessons from Experience," prepared by Jeni Klugman. This policy brief provides an overview of the results of a two-year multidisciplinary research project on "The Wave of Emergencies of the Last Decade: Causes, Extent, Predictability and Response" that was organized by UNU/WIDER and Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford. The project resulted in some 40 papers, including a dozen country case studies, that address key dimensions of CHEs.

In connection with the release of the UNU/WIDER policy brief, a series of events - organized with the assistance of UNU Office in North America (UNUONA) - was held in New York on 22 and 23 March. These events included a press conference, a TV interview with the UN Chronicle, briefings for the missions and the public, and a briefing for the UN Secretariat. The three main contributing authors and coordinators of the project, Professors E. Wayne Nafziger, Frances Stewart, and Raimo V?rynen, were present for these events.

The subject of CHEs is a large and evolving one, covering a huge range of countries and situations. The ongoing and recurring nature of these crises, with their massive human costs, requires that action be taken now on basis of current knowledge. It is in this spirit that the UNU/WIDER Policy Brief No. 2 highlights the conclusions of the research together with the implications for the international community.

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