humanitarian disaster

GC: n

S: DFID – (last access: 17 July 2019); WVI – (last access: 17 July 2019).

N: 1. – humanitarian (adj): 1794 in the theological sense “one who affirms the humanity of Christ but denies his pre-existence and divinity,” from human (adj.) + suffix from unitarian, etc. By 1834 as “one who professes the creed that a person’s highest duty is to advance the welfare of the human race,” but the closely allied sense “philanthropist, one who advocates or practices human action to solve social problems” (1842), originally was disparaging, with a suggestion of excess.
– disaster (n): “anything that befalls of ruinous or distressing nature; any unfortunate event,” especially a sudden or great misfortune, 1590s, from Middle French désastre (1560s), from Italian disastro, literally “ill-starred,” from dis-, here merely pejorative, equivalent to English mis- “ill” (see dis-) + astro “star, planet,” from Latin astrum, from Greek astron “star” (from PIE root *ster- (2) “star”).
The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet, and “star” here is probably meant in the astrological sense of “destiny, fortune, fate.” Compare Medieval Latin astrum sinistrum “misfortune,” literally “unlucky star,” and English ill-starred.
2. A disaster or humanitarian emergency can take different forms and have a major impact on people, the environment, infrastructure and buildings. It can arise out of many circumstances, including prolonged drought, intense flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis, or through political upheaval and civil conflict. In all disasters the survivors – many of them children – can be left stranded and in urgent need of life-saving relief such as shelter, food, water and health care.
3. Whenever there is a disaster or a humanitarian catastrophe, the UN is on the ground providing relief, support and assistance.
From the population displacements caused by war, weather and natural disasters, to the impact of such disruptions on health, hygiene, education, nutrition and even basic shelter, the UN is there, making a difference.

S: 1. OED –; (last access: 17 July 2019). 2. WVI – (last access: 17 July 2019). 3. UNIS – (last access: 17 July 2019).

SYN: humanitarian catastrophe

S: UNIS – (last access: 17 July 2019)

CR: humanitarian crisis, humanitarian disaster.