Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Human rights

Koenraad Van Brabant, outgoing HPN Coordinator, interviews Christina ter Braak, MSF-Holland, Uzbekistan Koenraad Van Brabant Christina, how does a young woman from Holland end up working in Uzbekistan? Christina ter Braak My first six-month stay in Uzbekistan was in 1996, teaching Dutch and English at Tashkent University. After my Bachelor’s degree, I did a Master’s in development studies. For my thesis – on unemployment in Uzbekistan – I spent another three months there doing research; every single person I spoke to had an opinion on the subject. Subsequently, I applied for a job in the Tashkent office of Human Rights Watch (HRW), and was invited for recruitment tests in New York. But the reply…
Jennifer F. Klot directed Graça Machel’s secretariat for the UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children. She has worked with international nongovernmental organisations, private foundations and multilateral agencies in the area of human rights, youth development, women’s rights, and development planning in both the United States and in Africa. “The report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children is testimony to the millions of children who have been killed, injured and permanently disabled as a result of armed conflicts. It is testimony to countless others who have been forced to witness and take part in horrifying…
Evidence of the particular vulnerabilities of LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) has been documented in several emergency and disaster situations. For example, men who have sex with men (MSM) in Haiti were denied food aid after the 2008 earthquake because ration schemes were targeted only at women, and these men had no women registered in their residences; transgender people reported being denied entry to IDP camps after the floods in Pakistan because they did not possess proper government ID that matched their appearance; and aravanis (feminine, male-bodied, gender-variant people) routinely faced discrimination in access to housing, medical…
Contrary to many assumptions, Myanmar is home to a determined and vibrant civil society. For more than 30 years after the final seizure of power by the military in 1962 no organisations independent from the state were authorised. Since the mid-1990s, however, the number of local NGOs (LNGOs) has been constantly increasing. Although these organisations have very diverse profiles, they can be categorised according to their ethnicity, religion, size and sectors of intervention. This article explores some of the dynamics, characteristics and working modalities of LNGOs in Myanmar, and puts forward recommendations for international actors working with or with an…
The popular uprisings sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East, from Tunisia in the west to Syria in the east, and the generally violent response to them from state authorities, are challenging humanitarian organisations and policymakers in new ways. These are not ‘classic’ humanitarian emergencies, which are often associated with hunger, epidemics, displacement and a desperate daily struggle for survival. These crises are happening mainly in middle-income countries, in urban settings with functioning basic social services, and affecting a cross-section of the population. These crises have not developed into large-scale humanitarian emergencies – at least not yet. But they…
Afghanistan is now in its fourth decade of warfare, making it one of the most protracted conflicts in recent history. The nature of warfare, and related war agendas, have evolved over time and continue to do so in line with changing internal and external political objectives and ground realities. However, the absence of adequate measures to protect civilians has characterised the fighting since the outbreak of armed conflict in 1979. According to an ICRC survey from 2009, almost all Afghans – 96% – have been directly or indirectly affected as a result of the immediate or wider consequences of war;…
Over the past decade, ‘protection’ has grown from a specialised function to a key piece of jargon in humanitarian circles: from a side issue to a core component of humanitarian action. As it has grown, so has the need for scrutiny. The articles in this special issue of Humanitarian Exchange attest to the drive to improve our collective humanitarian protection practice, and the equal push to develop a critical perspective on the emergence of humanitarian protection as an industry of its own.  Humanitarian protection aims to ensure that humanitarian action does not place people at greater risk (e.g. the well-worn…
First we lost our lives, then we lost our dignity – it seemed like international humanitarian agencies had their own agendas – they did not give attention to our own capacities to cope with the crisis. Local NGO volunteer, Gaza, 2009  In recent years, international engagement and activity in the field of humanitarian protection has significantly increased. But has this led to enhanced safety, security and dignity for populations at risk? Or have we somehow lost sight of the core subject, goal and agent of protection – namely crisis-affected communities themselves? Protection practice must reflect the right, capacity and desire…
The Burmese refugee camps on the Thai–Burma border are characterised as a protracted refugee situation.[1] The nine camps spread across four provinces have been in existence since the mid-1980s, and have a collective population of approximately 135,000 people.[2] The ethnic conflict precipitating much of the forced migration continues unabated in Burma, with at least 3,000 people fleeing to Thailand in 2009.[3] Until 1998, there was no formal protection programming in the camps. UNHCR was barred from entering them, and NGOs were prohibited from implementing programmes focusing on refugee rights. Camp residents faced (and still face) an array of threats from…
In May 2009, the government of Pakistan launched an offensive against the Taliban in Swat, prompting the world’s fastest and largest displacement crisis in over a decade. Over 2.6 million people were uprooted in as little as three weeks. From the outset, it was clear that protection concerns would play a considerable role. Areas of conflict were inaccessible, most of those fleeing were women and children and the vast majority of the displaced stayed in informal camps or host community settings, rather than the purpose-built formal camps. Many IDPs, therefore, remained hidden, unable to access services, unaware of their rights…
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