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San José del Guaviare, check point near Chuapal. A soldier of the colombian army is reading an ICRC leaflet. Image (C) ICRC

The Role of Humanitarian Professionals in Promoting Respect for IHL

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Amidst recurring violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), strengthening compliance with these international norms is indispensable to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. While improvements in accountability have been brought over recent decades to the international judiciary response, particularly with the establishment of the International Criminal Court and Special Tribunals, these mechanisms also face inherent limitations. Moreover, in situations of armed conflict, where the host state may be weakened or unwilling to ensure humanitarian protection and promoting respect for IHL, there is substantial more...



Practitioner Profile | Michaël Neuman

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

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In this Practitioner Profile, ATHA is joined by Michaël Neuman, the director of studies at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Centre de réflexion sur l'action et les savoirs humanitaires (MSF-Crash). MSF-Crash conducts and directs studies and analysis of MSF actions with the purpose of inspiring debate and critical reflection on field practices and public positions. Michaël joined MSF in 1999, alternating between missions in the field (the Balkans, the Caucasus and West Africa) and positions at MSF headquarters (in New York and Paris as deputy program manager). His work has also addressed political analysis and issues of immigration and more...



Yurvi and Tatiana stand in the ruins of their home in Nikishino, eastern Ukraine. The couple's home was hit during fighting in the village and was completely destroyed. (c) A. McConnell/UNHCR

Politics of Aid in Ukraine

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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Two years of conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine has continued to intensify since early March of this year. An estimated 3.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, particularly in terms of protection, unimpeded access of humanitarian agencies, continuous supply of water, food and emergency shelter, and other critical services.

Yet aid remains highly politicized in this conflict, complicating humanitarian access and operations. Most recently, the Ukrainian government has suspended social payments and started a verification process projected to affect over 600,000 registered IDPs from five more...



Practitioner Profile | Dr. Michael VanRooyen

Thursday, April 7, 2016

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In this Practitioner Profile, ATHA is joined by Dr. Michael VanRooyen, an emergency physician with a wealth of experience in humanitarian response. Michael has worked for a number of NGOs in over thirty countries affected by war and disaster. He is a Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health as well as the Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

In  an upcoming memoir entitled The World’s Emergency Room, Michael reflects on the evolution of the aid community over the last several decades and discusses what he considers to be today’s most pressing more...



The ICRC delivered water and food to Nahr al-Bared on Saturday, but access to thousands in need remains limited. Hugh Macleod/IRIN

Securing Access: Maintaining Presence & Proximity in Insecure Settings

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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This podcast is produced in partnership with Humanitarian Outcomes.

Recurring violence against civilians and humanitarian aid workers affects both the quantity and quality of protection and assistance reaching the most vulnerable populations. It also requires a reassessment of how humanitarian professionals plan and strategically implement aid delivery in insecure environments. Global data indicate that there is a relatively small pool of international aid agencies that consistently work in the most dangerous countries, and not enough to meet demand. This results more...



Mihiyo and family in Dadaab  © Moulid Hujale/IRIN

Gender Perspectives on IHL

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

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Armed conflict affects men, women, girls and boys in fundamentally different ways, often exacerbating pre-existing gender inequalities in society. In this context, how well does international humanitarian law (IHL) account for these differences in the protection of vulnerable populations in situations of conflict? Critically analyzing IHL from a gender perspective provides greater insight into many of the key humanitarian challenges in armed conflict, ranging from protecting refugees and displaced persons, to preventing sexual and gender-based violence, and limiting the harmful effects of weapons. It also highlights how gendered more...



Mount Gourougou, overlooking Spanish Melilla, was cleared of migrants by the police in February / Image (C) IRIN News

In the Same Boat: Morocco’s Migration Lessons for Europe

Friday, January 22, 2016

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This year, hundreds of thousands of people crossed the Mediterranean and Europe’s eastern borders seeking refuge. But while global attention was fixed on the boats struggling through the waves, or huddled behind barbed-wire borders, little thought has been given to what happens next. Europe will soon find itself facing the dilemma of how to manage its newest residents - a challenge that Morocco has already faced. 

We are in the same boat.

#InTheSameBoat is a campaign created by a Harvard University field study exploring the lessons that Europe can learn more...



Refugees at Vienna West Railway Station during the European migrant crisis 2015. Image (C) Bwag/Commons

Data Collection and Refugee Protection

Thursday, December 17, 2015

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As the numbers of migrants and refugees entering Europe continue to increase, data collection and analysis, particularly through mobile technology, social media, and crowdsourcing, provide humanitarian actors with key insights into critical protection gaps and emerging trends. Yet the growing use of information technology over the last decade has also introduced new concerns regarding the ethics, security, and utility of data for the humanitarian sector. While expansive data collection has created opportunities for more effective aid delivery to displaced populations, humanitarian agencies must also address the growing need for more more...



© Jocelyn Kelly

Supporting Community Resilience in Conflict

Thursday, November 19, 2015

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Resilience is an increasingly debated concept among humanitarian and development actors assisting communities impacted by natural disasters and armed conflict. Generally, there is acknowledgement of the need to strengthen individual, community and institutional mechanisms for coping with violence. Yet there is little agreement as to what resilience actually means, especially in the context of communities affected by conflict. Some consider resilience to be an end goal, while others consider it to be a process of adaptation.

more...



Perspectives on Access: Engaging with Non-State Armed Groups

Thursday, October 22, 2015

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Gaining and maintaining access and proximity to beneficiaries is crucial to humanitarian assistance. In order to ensure the safety and protection of civilians, particularly in non-international armed conflicts, the international legal and humanitarian communities have attempted to apply humanitarian rules developed for armed conflicts between states to internal conflicts with armed groups. Yet in many of today’s operating environments, reliable humanitarian access is increasingly difficult to create and maintain due to the complex legal and political tensions. Humanitarian organizations working in these spaces must therefore more...



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