Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Counterterrorism

In early 2011, the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) hosted a workshop with members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Humanitarian Space and Civil Military Relations Task Force on counter-terrorism and humanitarian action. Humanitarian practitioners had expressed concerns with the implications of counter-terrorism measures for humanitarian operations, particularly in contexts such as the Horn of Africa, occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and Afghanistan. Overall, the workshop exposed deep levels of anxiety concerning perceived risks, a lack of clarity as to what the exact risks were and a culture of secrecy, including a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’…
Dialogue between military and civilian actors is problematic in Somalia, and no more so than in the southern port city of Kismayo, what was the Islamist group al-Shabaab’s last remaining garrison. Considered the most complex urban space in the country, Kismayo is an important trade centre less than 200km from the Kenyan border, and the ultimate prize for the warring sub-clans in the region. After the fall of Siad Barre in 1991, the city was dominated by a succession of some of Somalia’s most feared warlords, and most recently by al-Shabaab. The liberation of Kismayo, the fulcrum of al-Shabaab’s economic…
There is immense potential for cash transfer programming to provide humanitarian relief at scale in times of crisis. By March 2012, $77 million in cash had been provided directly to beneficiaries in South Central Somalia, making this the largest emergency cash and voucher-based response ever implemented by NGOs anywhere in the world. However, as emergency conditions in the region deteriorated into famine in 2011, it took many months for the humanitarian community to employ cash transfers as an alternative to food aid. Why was there a delay in using cash-based responses when evidence was available that cash transfers were a…
The Dadaab refugee complex in north-east Kenya was established in 1991. Originally designed to accommodate 90,000 refugees, the camps now hold over five times their intended capacity, making Dadaab the third-largest population centre in Kenya after Nairobi and Mombasa. The region is remote and harsh, with temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius in the dry season and extreme flooding in the rainy season. The main Dadaab complex consists of the ‘older’ Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo refugee camps, with three further sites, Ifo East and Ifo West (combined they are known as Ifo 2) and Kambioos. These sites are being…
Counter-terrorism laws and other measures are having a significant impact on humanitarian action in Somalia. Research by the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) suggests that they have increased operating costs, slowed down administrative functions and operational response, curtailed funding and undermined humanitarian partnerships. They have also prevented access and altered the quality and coordination of assistance, making it more difficult for humanitarian actors to operate in accordance with the principles of neutrality and impartiality. Counter-terrorism legislation The development of counter-terrorism legislation and measures relating to Somalia must be seen in the context of global counter-terrorism efforts. Although there is no legal…
  In the span of a few months last spring, Pakistan witnessed one of the gravest internal displacement crises of the last two decades. Beginning in early May, each week hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of the districts of Swat, Buner and Dir into neighbouring lowland areas, driven from their homes by a sweeping military campaign against the Taliban. They joined over half a million already displaced in late 2008 by a similar campaign in the northern tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mohmand. At the height of the crisis, nearly three million people sought shelter in host communities…
After over a decade of relative obscurity, Somalia is, once again, on the radar screen of the international community, but for all the wrong reasons. After the departure of UNOSOM in 1995 and a retreat into the shadows, Somalia is now being described with such superlatives as ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’, ‘the most dangerous place for aid workers to operate’, ‘the site of the world’s largest concentration of IDPs’ and so on. This negative press has forced the international community into a bout of collective hand-wringing, but little else. Millions of Somalis – some 2.6 million, at the time…
Somalia is suffering its worst civil war since the collapse of the state, with the breakdown of clan protection mechanisms complicating all aspects, including the protection of displaced people. The crisis is affecting previously peaceful areas, including Somaliland and Puntland, as well as the wider region. The lack of coherence in Western donor governments’ agendas, their failure to call for accountability by the governments they fund, and their prioritisation of Western security interests over the humanitarian imperative are contributing to the escalating emergency. This timeline provides an overview of the complex interplay of political, security and humanitarian agendas in the…
In the public mind, Islamic charity organisations have become little more than funding fronts for terrorism and jihad. Yet, despite allegations in television programmes, books and investigative reports in the UK, very little evidence has actually been forthcoming linking agencies or their staff with terrorist activity. Since 1998, the British government’s Charity Commission has conducted only 20 inquiries into suspected links with terrorism, ten of which have been dropped. One has led to the closure of a Tamil organisation linked to the LTTE in Sri Lanka. At the same time, the 1,000-plus Islamic charities and trusts in the UK have…
The conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon in 2006 led to heated debates within and outside the humanitarian community. The major cause of debate was the grave abuse of civilians committed by all parties to the conflict. But an additional question was the fact that Hamas and Hizbollah were labelled terrorist organisations, and hence illegitimate and illegal in the terms of the ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT). At the same time, however, both groups represented the legal authority. Engagement with non-state armed groups by non-governmental humanitarian agencies (NGHAs) is always problematic. Under the GWOT, however, it has become even more complex.…
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