Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:UN

In the first week of March 2011, a group of schoolboys in the rural Syrian village of Dara’a were imprisoned for graffiti, after spray-painting the walls of a school with a common slogan of the Arab uprisings, ‘The people want to topple the regime’.[1] This event sparked anti-government demonstrations that would soon spread throughout the country. The ensuing conflict between government and rebel forces, which is now in its third year, has forced over two million Syrians to seek refuge abroad, principally in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, and further afield in Egypt. The relentless pace…
A political or military solution to stop the carnage in Syria seems as remote as ever. The war seems only to bring even worse depths of human suffering and diplomatic impotence. Syrian civilians are in a state, not just of terror, but of horror – hostages in a geopolitical, ideological and sectarian catastrophe. On the face of it, getting humanitarian assistance to the millions affected should be easier to deal with than the political and military mess. In the space of two years, a major relief operation within Syria has indeed come to life despite the extreme circumstances. But these…
Humanitarian access negotiations with Hamas in the Gaza Strip highlight the many challenges humanitarians encounter when engaging with non-state actors. After winning the Palestinian Authority (PA) parliamentary elections in 2006, Hamas began transitioning from an Islamic charitable/militant organisation to a party responsible for state institutions and the provision of public services. Yet Hamas remains in many ways a nonstate actor; those running its ministries are guided by its senior leadership in Qatar and Egypt, have little control over its paramilitary branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and are suspicious of Western aid organisations’ potential ‘collaboration’ with Israeli and other intelligence…
In November 2011, fighting in Blue Nile State in Sudan led to the flight of some 25,000 refugees to Maban County, in Upper Nile State in South Sudan, where they were settled in two refugee camps, first at Doro and then, from December, at Jamam. More continued to arrive over the subsequent months. Six months later, in May 2012, a second wave of 35,000 refugees arrived, in very bad condition with some dying of dehydration from their journey. After an initial period in transit camps en route, most of this second wave was moved to Jamam camp; new camps were…
South Sudan is host to one of the world’s largest humanitarian responses, bringing together national and international humanitarian actors in an operation worth more than $1.2 billion in 2013. While the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 brought an end to the civil war and led to the creation of an independent country, the security situation in the new nation remains volatile. Out of a population of 12 million, more than 4.6m are food insecure, many of them recent returnees. Ongoing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as communal violence within the country, displace hundreds of thousands of…
Numerous evaluations have highlighted the poor engagement of national and local NGOs within clusters, listing practical concerns such as language, staffing and logistics barriers, but often without a thorough analysis of why national NGOs do not engage, or what their motivations are when they do. Two questions arise. If we focus on the motivating forces behind engagement, can we build better cluster relations with national NGO partners? And by creating a prescriptive format of participation, such as the cluster approach, have we actually created a barrier to true partnership? My research on cluster partner national NGOs from Somalia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar…
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…
This article discusses how experience from the 2008 Israeli military operation in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, resulted in important changes to humanitarian civil–military coordination strategies in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The civil–military component of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is called COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), a small specialist unit with responsibility for the daily coordination of humanitarian and development activities with the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian population and international organisations in the oPt. COGAT has its own courses and career progression and, unlike many other militaries, which use reserve officers, is staffed by active duty…
International police and Formed Police Units (FPUs) are deployed in a range of contexts and by a range of actors, including the UN, the European Union and the African Union (AU).[1] Their tasks include substituting for national law enforcement actors, empowering or building their capacity and monitoring their performance, as well as joint patrols and co-location with national police forces, crowd control and criminal investigations. These forces have also become increasingly involved in the protection of civilians under threat. This article assesses the experience of the police component of the UN/AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), outlining the challenges it…
In July 2011, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Group asked the Task Force on Humanitarian Space and Civil–Military Relations to review and update the IASC Non-binding Guidelines on the Use of Military and Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys (2001). The primary concerns that led to the decision to revise the guidelines were the recognition of a growing reliance on armed escorts, the need to synchronise a more robust decision-making process on the use of armed escorts with the new UN Security Management System (SMS) and inconsistencies in the interpretation and application of the out-of-date guidelines. The revised guidelines, which…
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