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Urban Humanitarian Response and Protection

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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It is estimated that half of the world’s population currently resides in urban areas, and this number is expected to rise to 5 billion by 2030, with the largest cities emerging in Africa and Asia. Rapid urbanization has led to increased density, overcrowding, and strain on local infrastructure and public services. This, in turn, has reduced the security of urban dwellers, and magnified their vulnerabilities to natural disaster and violent conflict. Along with growing mass urbanization has come an unprecedented level of violence and crime in densely populated slums and shantytowns. Cities like Kingston, Rio de Janeiro, and more...

Grappling with the Challenges of Rapid Urbanization: An Interview with Dr. Ronak Patel

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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ATHA’s Anaide Nahikian recently sat down with Dr. Ronak Patel, founder and director of the Urbanization and Crises Program at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Dr. Patel is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a practicing attending physician in emergency medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.


Humanitarian Assistance Webcast - Thinking Local: Trends and Standards in Capacity-Building

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The dynamics of contemporary conflicts have made the way in which international actors understand and support local agencies increasingly important. As we have seen, states have become much more assertive in the way in which they relate to humanitarian actors and the building of local capacity is not simply good humanitarian practice but, ultimately, necessary to reach affected populations.   However, humanitarian action has grown into an international industry and must contend with the variety of political and bureaucratic considerations that accompany such growth. As a result, capacity building, particularly for regional offices and local partners, has become one of the most complex and controversial discussions among and within humanitarian agencies.     This Humanitarian Assistance Webcast will facilitate a re-examination of the current humanitarian response structure and discuss what opportunities exist to redefine the relationship between international and more...

Humanitarian Assistance Webcast: The Contemporary Role of Faith-based Aid

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Faith-based humanitarian organizations have played a central role in responding to humanitarian needs for centuries. While deeply rooted in principles of faith and charity, these organizations also represent a community of influential donors. As such, they are uniquely positioned to lead programs in assistance, protection, and advocacy in complex humanitarian environments. Furthermore, given their continued investment and presence in local communities, faith-based organizations are often the first to respond to humanitarian disasters or conflict.This webcast will discuss the role of faith-based humanitarian organizations and the operational challenges faced by both faith-based and secular humanitarian organizations in their work.


Through discussions with experts and practitioners, the webcast will explore the following questions:

What is the relationship between the core principles and standards for humanitarian more...

Save Lives or Save the Regimes? An Interview with Dr. François Audet

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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ATHA’s Anaide Nahikian recently sat down with Dr. François Audet, Scientific Director of the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid (OCCAH) and a professor of management and technology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Their discussion centered on Dr. Audet’s recent research, which looks at the interest and...

Humanitarian Assistance Webcast: Syrian Refugee Response: Evolving Protection Challenges

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over recent years, prompting record-high levels of international assistance and programming. The ongoing conflict has generated the displacement of over two million refugees since the beginning of the conflict, resulting in one of the largest, regional refugee crises in recent history. It is projected by UNHCR that by end of 2014, the total refugee population in the region, particularly in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, could reach up to four million people.

In view of the complex political and social environment in which humanitarian challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, programmatic responses to humanitarian protection are essential to address the evolving needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region. The Syrian refugee crisis has prompted a number of debates that have had a significant impact on more...

Humanitarian Assistance Webcast: New Warfare Technologies, New Protection Challenges

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recent scientific and technological advances have given rise to unprecedented means and methods of warfare. Some of these new technologies — such as observation and combat drones — are already in use, while others — for example, nanotechnologies, combat robots, and laser weapons — are still in experimental stages.

These developments have, and will continue to, profoundly change the ways that modern actors engage in armed conflict. On the one hand, these technologies can not only limit civilian losses but also can spare the lives of combatants. On the other hand, certain features of these new technologies raise unprecedented issues that make the legality of an attack more difficult to ascertain and the attribution of responsibility more complex.

This Humanitarian Action Webcast, produced in partnership with the International Review of the Red Cross, will explore contemporary technological developments and will discuss the resulting challenges that emerge for more...

Health Delivery in Armed Conflict

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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The delivery of health services in contemporary armed conflicts is becoming increasingly complex, as the nature of these conflicts is continually changing. While the response to specific health needs of vulnerable populations may be found in specialized literature, the practical challenges of access to victims and the response to major disruptions of health care systems in conflict are rarely discussed in global health arenas. This is an issue of particular relevance to the Harvard community, as well as the global humanitarian community of professionals, designing an effective humanitarian response in these environments....

Interview: Peter Singer

Monday, April 14, 2014

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On April 15, 2014, for the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA), Rob Grace interviewed Dr. Peter Singer about the impact of new technologies on the evolution of warfare. Dr. Singer is the director of the Center for 21st Century Security Intelligence at the Brookings Institution and is the author of several books on the topic, including his most recent book, co-authored with Allan Friedman, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Highlights from this interview were...

Humanitarian Assistance Webcast: Yemen in Transition

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Presented in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières Despite the Yemeni Government’s commitment to the 2014 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan and ongoing efforts toward a sustainable political transition, the country’s humanitarian situation remains dire. As Yemen struggles to sustain a series of ceasefires, strengthen its central authority, and provide humanitarian assistance to its population, violence between Yemen’s armed forces and various armed groups threatens to destabilize an already fragile transition. According to Mr. Ismail Ould Cheick Ahmed, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, “the scale of current needs makes Yemen one of the largest humanitarian emergencies globally. In 2014, more than half of Yemen’s population will need some form of humanitarian assistance.” Over recent weeks, violence has escalated with reports of indiscriminate and more...


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