Displaying items by tag: Protection

In recent years, the humanitarian and development sectors have seen a significant increase in international attention, engagement and activity falling under the banner of ‘protection’. International humanitarian actors have embraced the concept and discourse of protection in various forms — through mainstreaming, integration and stand-alone protection projects and programmes. But has this growth in protection resources and response capacity enhanced the safety, security and dignity of populations at risk? Have these efforts actually achieved effective protection for people in crisis — or have they simply progressed the agendas of international actors? Network Paper 68 explores the concept and practice of…
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…
Even in the face of extreme poverty, conflict and crisis, civilians often play a critical role in responding to threats to their safety and dignity and violations of their fundamental rights. The focus on legal duty-bearers in the academic discourse on protection does not go far enough to acknowledge the part that non-formal actors, including affected communities themselves, play in protection. This is particularly true in contexts where effective government presence is lacking or non-existent. This article pulls together knowledge from Church World Service (CWS) programmes implemented in East Africa and Afghanistan to illustrate how community-based empowerment approaches can reduce…
Many agencies still find it difficult to effectively integrate protection into humanitarian sector programmes. Although protection is a cross-cutting issue in the Sphere handbook and agency staff are trained in the application of Sphere standards, protection issues are frequently not systematically identified and addressed in humanitarian response. Recognising this gap, World Vision Australia undertook a six-month research exercise to code existing standards and indicators relating to protection, leading to the development and publication of Minimum Agency Standards for Incorporating Protection into Humanitarian Response.[1] This tool is intended to help operational agencies to incorporate protection into their humanitarian programming and advocacy.…
Humanitarian protection is widely regarded as encompassing respect for the fundamental rights of people, for their safety, dignity and integrity as human beings.[1] Protection actors are encouraged to work directly with affected individuals and populations, and to strengthen the capacity of communities to protect themselves.[2] But to what extent do agencies and populations at risk share similar definitions, ideas and priorities regarding protection? In 2008 and 2009, Oxfam Timor-Leste, Caritas Australia (Timor-Leste), CARE Timor-Leste and World Vision Kenya conducted 34 focus group discussions in three locations in Timor-Leste and three locations in Kenya. The discussions were one component of baseline…
The South-East Asian nation of Timor-Leste declared independence on 20 May 2002 after three years of UN administration following the end of the Indonesian occupation in 1999. Four years later, in 2006, serious civil conflict broke out when sections of the Timorese army (known as ‘Petitioners’) protested against alleged discrimination by officers from areas of eastern Timor-Leste. Subsequent clashes, which also included the police and wider society, resulted in the displacement of approximately 150,000 people. The Cluster System was officially introduced in Timor-Leste in March 2009 to better coordinate the response to the conflict and also to plan for potential…
Since 1999, UN peacekeeping missions have been explicitly mandated to protect civilians under threat. On the ground, however, there remains a significant degree of confusion amongst soldiers and civilians working within peacekeeping missions about what exactly this civilian protection mandate entails. This article provides a brief summary of Oxfam’s experiences of engaging with peacekeeping missions around their protection responsibilities in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Chad and Somalia. It argues that UN bodies and Member States must provide peacekeeping missions with better leadership and guidance to implement their protection mandate.   Civilian protection within UN peacekeeping Recent years…
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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