Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Conflict management

While securing ‘acceptance’ is vital for aid agencies operating in insecure environments, precisely how acceptance is secured and understood varies. Recent research on engaging with armed groups in Afghanistan and Somalia provides greater insight into the kinds of ‘acceptance’ tactics and strategies that are most effective – and those that may pose unintended risks. Operationalising ‘acceptance’ Despite the extensive literature devoted to acceptance strategies, and the widely held belief that acceptance is essential for humanitarian agencies to maintain presence, field research in Afghanistan and Somalia indicated that ‘acceptance’ remains inconsistently understood and implemented. Few agencies in either country had a…
Humanitarian crises frequently give rise to new kinds of settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs). In the Balkans in the 1990s, humanitarian actors provided assistance in ‘collective centres’ – pre-existing buildings such as schools and churches – which subsequently received increased attention. I wrote an article in this magazine about the ‘tent villages’ set up following the earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005. The conflict in South Sudan since 15 December 2013 has arguably produced yet another type of IDP settlement to add to the humanitarian lexicon: ‘Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites’. These settlements have hosted more than 100,000 IDPs…
The conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been raging for over a year with violence, often linked to religious affiliation, involving rape, murder, torture, pillaging and the destruction of property. The scale of the emergency is immense: according to OCHA, as of 11 August 2014 an estimated 2.5 million people out of a total population of 4.6m are in need of humanitarian assistance, and a fifth of the population (almost a million people) have been displaced. Humanitarian workers are having difficulty meeting these needs. Interventions are severely underfunded, and agencies are struggling to register beneficiaries and distribute commodities,…
Muslim and Christian communities in the Central African Republic (CAR) are separated by mutual fear and suspicion, and the chances of restoring social cohesion in the country are dwindling rapidly. Since December 2012, CAR has spiralled from a long-term crisis of poverty and chronic vulnerability into a complex humanitarian emergency. Almost the entire population of 4.6 million has been affected, with one in five forced to flee their homes. The widespread violence and insecurity has torn the social fabric of the country apart. Faith groups are separated not only by perception but increasingly by geography, as a large proportion of…
The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) constitutes one of the most intractable humanitarian crises in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and are living in dire conditions. In a context of continuing violence, a failed state, insufficient international troops, limited capacity of humanitarian actors and the lack of a clear chain of command for non-state armed actors, protecting war-affected communities through humanitarian action has proved particularly challenging. Context In March 2013, northern Seleka fighters took the CAR capital Bangui, ousting President Michel Bozizé. Seleka fighters were mostly Muslims, and included numerous Arabicspeaking mercenaries from…
The Central African Republic (CAR) government, regional and donor governments, humanitarian organisations and faith leaders agree that a comprehensive security, political and humanitarian approach is needed in the CAR – a comprehensive approach that includes security, political and humanitarian goals. However, in CAR’s complex operating environment the approaches and goals of these different tracks vary. Political and security efforts are needed to help the government re-establish basic security and state administration. These efforts take a robust stance against armed groups and support the restoration of the state. Humanitarians on the other hand aim to alleviate suffering and need community acceptance…
The crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) has resulted in more than 300,000 refugees and over 630,000 internally displaced people as of June 2014[1]. Thousands of people have been killed. The international community turned to African and European forces and the United Nations to deploy troops to stabilise the country and stop the violence. The mosaic of international forces on the ground has faced two challenges: how to protect people from diverse and abundant threats and how to avoid harming civilians in the process. These challenges will not disappear when regional forces are re-hatted on 15 September 2014 under the…
The Central African Republic (CAR) has finally found a place on the geopolitical map of the region, mainly due to the wave of violence that has engulfed the country since September 2013. However, even before then the country was gripped by a silent and chronic crisis that deserved – but failed to get – international attention. Years of ignoring the dire humanitarian conditions endured by people in CAR prepared the ground for the difficulties being experienced in responding to the current crisis. A silent crisis Recent events in CAR come on top of a slow-burn but long-term crisis. In 2011, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported mortality rates above the emergency threshold, especially for children under five, even in…
Even for aid agencies with a longstanding presence in Afghanistan, the challenges of securing access are growing. Problems caused by the insecure and fragmented operating environment are compounded by the uncertainties surrounding the transition to Afghan control of security and the drawdown of international combat troops in 2014. Aid agencies are increasingly being forced to rethink their strategies and approaches, and adopt new methods and mechanisms to ensure that they are able to reach those in need of assistance. Access constrained The World Food Programme (WFP), the largest operational humanitarian agency in Afghanistan, has worked continuously in the country since…
Almost two years after South Sudan’s independence, peace in Jonglei State remains elusive, despite attempts by the government, the international community, the Church and other national institutions to address the protracted violence there. This is not surprising given that these efforts have been disjointed, driven by multiple and conflicting agendas, lacking in strategic vision and seldom reflective of local perspectives. Grievances have been driven by a range of factors, including the perceived failure of the government to protect civilians and provide security and justice in an equitable manner; forced disarmament processes; perceptions of inequity in development and the distribution of…
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