Security Brief: EMH2 Week of September 27, 2021
Week of Monday, September 27, 2021 | Issue 31
Jade Patel, Benjamin Maher, Emergency Management, Health and Hazards Team
Previous Floods, Bangkok, Thailand
Date: September 25, 2021
Parties involved: Thailand Government and Military; Local Government Constituents; Thai Civilian Population; Emergency response units (Thai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department); International Assisting Agencies; United Nations (UN)
The event: Storm Dianmu in Thailand has resulted in severe flooding of 27 provinces. With over 197,795 households affected, seven deaths to date, and two people missing, emergency relief teams are working to alleviate the unfolding situation. High-velocity rainfall has also caused dams and reservoirs to overflow. More rain is expected over the coming days, with a second flood warning issued.
The number of provinces affected is likely to make emergency assistance and recovery challenging because of the vast geographical reach. The vast surface area, combined with the high velocity of rainfall, is likely to stretch emergency personnel and resources. This may likely result in categorization of provinces that need the most assistance, or sharing of resources which is likely to see provinces not receiving the most effective aid.
Previous and ongoing floods have left thousands of people homeless and are very likely to add to the surge of internally displaced persons (IDPs) countrywide. As people continue to seek safety, the demand for emergency shelters will likely increase, likely leading to mass overcrowding. As Thailand continues to battle COVID-19, it is very likely that emergency shelters will become superspreader locations because of the high amount of people in close proximity. It is also very likely that vaccination distribution will be delayed. Decreased vaccination distributions are likely to leave thousands of people vulnerable to COVID-19. With more floods likely, community recovery will almost certainly be delayed resulting in emergency sheltering becoming more permanent and overcrowded, likely accelerating the developing humanitarian crisis.
Severe destruction of communities and flooded roads are likely to delay emergency response as they work to find alternative means of access. Delayed access is likely to leave thousands of people without aid, and will likely increase the number of fatalities. The pattern of floods in the region suggests that a trend of adverse weather is likely forming, which is very likely an impact of climate change, and could make similar incidents more likely in the future. Continuous or consecutive floods leave less time for recovery and are likely to cause long-term destruction to affected areas.
Stagnant, high volumes of water are likely to increase water-borne diseases. Because hospitals are dealing with normal emergency traffic, the tail end of the pandemic, and people who have been injured in the flood, it is highly likely that health workers and medical facilities are facing an increasing demand for services. If hospitals become overcrowded and contingency plans are not implemented, the humanitarian crisis is likely to worsen.
Severe weather conditions within the country make it likely that Thailand will appeal for international aid, but with ongoing global hazardous incidents, this could be limited. Without sufficient international aid, resources are likely to be limited and could leave people without access to essentials. As of September 30, 2021, a new flood warning has been issued, expected to hit areas already impacted, along with other regions of Thailand. Heavy rainfall is almost certain to cause more destruction to homes and infrastructure and displace more people, adding to the ongoing flooding crisis. It is also likely that an increase in flooding may complicate and disrupt emergency management and may leave the country in a state of emergency.
Date: September 27, 2021
Location: United Kingdom
Parties involved: United Kingdom Fuel Providers; United Kingdom Government; Military; United Kingdom Civilian Population; Private Businesses
The event: Fuel providers have begun rationing deliveries due to a lack of access to heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and a decreasing capacity to transport petrol from refineries into the network of forecourts. This has led to over 2000 British gas stations running out of a serviceable supply. Disrupted fuel supplies are resulting in civilians queuing in hour-long lines and filling empty containers to store fuel. Private fuel suppliers are being forced to close businesses until they can regain supply access. It is expected that the crisis will continue for a few weeks before solutions reach all territories of the United Kingdom.
The competition for fuel is likely to increase the risk of violence, with civilians fighting over scarce resources at fuel stations. Security and law enforcement will likely face additional pressures and are extremely likely to become overextended with new risks to their transport capabilities.
United Kingdom competition laws have ceased in order to reduce bulk spending and the risks of queuing and violence, but are likely to increase the risk of inflation causing further decline in service provider capacities. COVID-19 forced large parts of the economy to shut down, and with a backlog of new HGV drivers, it is unlikely that large numbers of new drivers will become licensed. Brexit has limited the ability of European Union (EU) drivers to participate in supporting the United Kingdom's new market, and without alternative avenues to employ new drivers efficiently and safely, the pressures on supply lines and access to fuel are likely to continue.
The current economic pressures resulting from COVID-19 and Brexit are very likely to leave businesses permanently closed. It is likely that this will force more pressures on civilian communities to seek affordable fuel elsewhere and fuel stations to increase prices, resulting in inflation and increased cost of living.
Private medical service providers (ambulances) are suffering from a lack of fuel access, and are likely to close, resulting in the public sector prioritizing transport links and causing travel delays to medical centers and hospitals. Pharmacy deliveries are also likely to be disrupted, creating a scarcity of medicines. COVID-19 has increased pressures and limited national capacity to support all health needs, and the current fuel crisis is likely to contribute to the increased struggles that public and private industry sectors face in meeting the needs of the population.
Transport services such as taxis are limiting journeys until there is widespread available fuel, likely resulting in civilian populations having limited access to transport services used for education and work responsibilities. If civilians are unable to access the services they rely on for income, it is likely to have a further detrimental effect on the economy.
Agricultural industries and food suppliers are likely suffering from limited access to workers and delivery mechanisms, likely resulting in a food shortage. It is likely the United Kingdom will need to allow EU members to find avenues for emergency visas in order to support the agricultural industries and to allow special permissions for the transport of essential supplies such as food.
Date: September 29, 2021
Location: Canary Islands, Spain
Parties involved: Local residents; Spanish Military Engagement Unit; The Spanish Army; Civil Protection and Firefighters; Red Cross; National Geographic Institute; Spanish National Research Council; State Meteorological Agency; Spanish Oceanographic Institute
The event: The volcanic eruption in La Palma, Spain, on September 19, 2021, has resulted in a total evacuation of the island in an attempt to preserve all life forms from lava and toxic volcanic ash. In the week of Monday, September 20, 2021, concerns were raised about the lava entering the sea, creating harmful toxins for sealife and air quality. As a precaution, coastal residents were advised to stay indoors to reduce contact with toxic fumes. This week, the lava has hit the sea causing clouds of toxic gas, explosions, and a fragmentation of the molten rock.
The gas and liquid emitted as lava reaching the ocean are likely to cause detrimental effects to any person that comes in close contact by irritating one’s eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Pre-existing respiratory diseases are highly likely to exacerbate symptoms in an affected individual. It is likely that persons with pre-existing conditions will need to remain evacuated from the island for an increased duration until the gases dissolve, risking longer-than-expected displacement. The La Palma population remains dependent on weather conditions and strong winds to disperse the gases, and air quality is very likely to remain poor if weather conditions fail to achieve this. It is unlikely that weather conditions will remain stable, putting the La Palma population at risk of health crises and increasing pressure on medical supplies if the flow of lava quickens or weather changes.
Sealife and vegetation are likely to be affected by the lava as the water becomes more acidic and warmer, creating fertilizer that will likely increase algal growth in further offshore territories. Algae is a crucial food source for animals and organisms living toward the bottom of the food chain and is not always negative, although large blooms are likely to infect fish gills and block light from entering the ecosystem. It is expected that the eruption will have a detrimental effect on key food sources on the island such as the banana, and a turned reliance to the sea may not be fruitful if local ecosystems are struggling to survive. This is very likely to cause food shortages and further reliance on aid as the La Palma community begins to focus on rebuilding homes and other infrastructure.
________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)
 Thailand issues new flood warnings amid heavy monsoon rains, Al Jazeera, September 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2021/9/30/thailand-issues-new-flood-warnings-amid-heavy-monsoon-rains
 Fuel supply crisis: What you need to know about the petrol shortage in the Midlands, ITV, September 2021, https://www.itv.com/news/central/2021-09-28/fuel-crisis-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-petrol-shortage-in-the-midlands
 Chaos in the UK: pumps dry, medicines disrupted and pig cull fears, Reuters, September 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britains-fuel-crisis-is-back-under-control-minister-says-2021-09-30/
 Canary Islands volcano lava reaches sea, raising fears of toxic gas clouds, The Guardian, September 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/29/canary-islands-volcano-lava-reaches-sea-raising-fears-of-toxic-gas-clouds