This paper provides a broad and selective overview of the humanitarian system, and trends and issues relating to humanitarian responses to natural disasters.1 Key issues covered include:\n- Humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence are the key underlying principles of humanitarian action;\n- Natural disasters aren’t straightforwardly ‘natural’ – their natural and human dimensions are inextricably linked;\n- While natural hazards often trigger disasters, disasters result from human vulnerability rather than simply from hazard events per se;\n- Vulnerability to natural disaster is determined by social, economic, political and environmental variables;\n- Effective development processes are critical to prevent and mitigate natural disasters therefore collaboration between humanitarian and development actors is essential; and,\n- The response mechanisms used by the humanitarian community have at times been inappropriate or insufficient.
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