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Disasters. 2011 Jan;35(1):87-101. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2010.01194.x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

Revisiting sphere: new standards of service delivery for new trends in protracted displacement.

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Department of International Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Cambridge, United States.


The proportion of people living in protracted displacement, as well as the duration of this displacement, is increasing. International humanitarian standards for services provided in protracted displacement are based on the Sphere Standards, which were formulated using evidence and experience from acute phase emergencies. However, the majority of protracted emergencies are in the post-emergency phase. This paper discusses trends in displacement, outlines reasons why using the Sphere Standards as minimum standards of service provision in protracted displacement does not adequately meet the needs of these populations, and analyses areas where greater standards of service provision are necessary. An expansion of the evidence base regarding determinants of morbidity and mortality in protracted emergencies is needed. This, followed by a joint approach to designing new, effective standards focused on proactive policies, will allow the humanitarian community more appropriately to serve and enable the millions of people currently living in protracted displacement.

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