Visiting Damascus last week I saw for myself how local and international relief workers are engaged in heroic, dangerous and often life-saving work in Syria. However, the successful evacuation of civilians from some neighbourhoods of Homs will not end the continued provocation against basic human decency that is happening on our watch. Of Syria’s many besieged civilians, 99% are not in Homs. The conflict in Syria has put back the clock on humanitarian progress by decades, and if the UN security council cannot agree on a basic resolution on humanitarian access then the future is even bleaker.(...more)
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Friday, 30 August 2013
Any escalation of the Syrian crisis following an apparent chemical weapons attack will worsen suffering of civilians that has already reached unprecedented levels, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.(...more)
Saturday, 17 August 2013
The Lebanese interior minister stated recently that, at the current rate of Syrian refugees crossing the border into Lebanon, by the end of the year Lebanon would be host to 2 million Syrian refugees.
The latest U.N. statistics indicate that close to 700,000 refugees have officially registered with the U.N. There are at least another 100,000 who refuse to register out of fear.(...more)
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Dates: 9-14th March 2014
Location: Birmingham, UK
Course fee: £1100 (includes full board accommodation from the evening of 9th – afternoon of 14th March)
Strengthening Policy and Practice: meeting the challenges of working in complex environments is designed to draw on the experience and practice of participants, working in development, humanitarian aid or peacebuilding to influence internal policies and programmatic approaches. The course will identify how organisations can strive to balance their organisational mandate with the demands of working in complex and rapidly changing political contexts.
The course will enable participants to contribute to developing constructive organisational and programmatic policies that will guide practical responses in the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding fields. It will draw on the experience of participants and tutors to examine the key issues that are emerging from field-based work.
- deepen their understanding of their work, from a conflict transformation perspective
- apply appropriate conflict analysis to their own organisational contexts
- explore the relationship between organisational policy and practice in situations of instability, conflict or violence
- examine issues relating to aid and conflict in order to develop conflict sensitive policies for their organisations
- consider the key policy and practice issues relating to the prevention of violent conflict and of building peace
- strengthen their competence to contribute pro-actively to the development of appropriate policies and best practices in their organisation/ institution for working in environments affected by conflict or violence
This course is for staff of international and national agencies and those with advisory and management responsibility for emergency, relief, development, and peacebuilding programmes. It is particularly relevant for those engaged in the planning and implementation of field-based programmes, and those concerned with developing policies for appropriate responses in complex political emergencies.
2013 participant feedback
“The structure was very interactive with joint task exercises, team work and opportunity for self reflection, critical learning and experience sharing.”
“Both facilitators made the learning fun and reflective. We are taking away not only the knowledge and skills but also the approach of delivering this knowledge and skill.”
“I have learned too many things to choose just one. What I think will be the most valuable in my work are practical tools for conflict analysis and transformation.”
For more information about the course and to apply, please visit our website www.respond.org or contact us at email@example.com.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
In the first year of the second world war a tribunal heard evidence about a “fine young man”, a Methodist Sunday school teacher and Cambridge graduate, whose conscience forbade him to take up arms.
He was my father, Richard Wainwright, and the hearing’s ruling in his favour led to six years’ work with the Quaker-run Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU), from cleaning hospital bedpans in Gloucester to saving German families and refugees from reprisals after the allied victory.
His pacifist war service will be recognised this weekend with that of more than 1,300 colleagues in the FAU, 17 of them killed in action, and their counterparts in the Friends Relief Service (FRS) which helped civilian victims of war, first in the 1940-41 blitz and then overseas in the wake of the fighting.(...more)
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
From across the courtyard, an old nun was beckoning. I checked right and left; she was definitely waving at us.
And so I took my children by the hand climbed the stairs into the Missionaries of Charity Motherhouse.
I was going through Calcutta with my family not long ago and decided we would all take a quick detour to the legendary mission established by Mother Teresa…(...more)
Friday, 12 October 2012
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
The spotlight is squarely back on the responsibilities and strategies of donors – if, indeed, it ever went away.
In their opinion piece in The Phnom Penh Post on August 24 (“Better nutrition, better future”), Annette Dixon of the World Bank, British ambassador Mark Gooding and Australian ambassador Penny Richards discuss the scourge of malnutrition in Cambodia in the context of what the World Bank and its bilateral donor partners can achieve in terms of aid and development effectiveness.
In fact, there are ways in which donors can be more strategic across the board. Once again, donors such as the World Bank are engaging directly with the Royal Government of Cambodia by contributing pooled financing, which is then distributed to specific programs.
If donors are to engage again with the government – rather than working directly with civil-society organisations and networks – they should consider three key points in order for aid and development effectiveness to have any chance of success.(...more)
Sunday, 5 August 2012
NEW YORK – The presence of U.N. observers in Syria, who have drastically curtailed their monitoring activities due to the escalating violence, continues to have a positive impact on humanitarian aid delivery, the EU crisis chief said on Wednesday…
Some Western diplomats say they are loath to keep the mission in Syria given that there is no truce to monitor. One said there was a good chance the 15-nation council would “pull the plug” on the observers later this month, though it was likely to accept some kind of scaled-down U.N. presence.
But the United Nations has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria and the European Union’s humanitarian affairs commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, said the unarmed monitors’ presence was proving beneficial for aid workers, despite the U.N.’s limited ability to operate.(...more)
In Afghanistan and other conflict zones, the military is often first on the ground, followed by diplomats, contractors and journalists. Next, in many cases, are aid workers: People who work for private organizations and strive to remain impartial in some of the world’s most dangerous places.
Monday, 30 April 2012
Salina, KS – In February 2011, with grassroots uprisings having toppled the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, unrest was swelling in Iraq as well. In response, the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that it was postponing a planned purchase of F16 fighter planes from the United States. The money saved by not buying the 18 jets would be used, said al-Maliki, to provide Iraq’s poorest citizens with increased monthly rations from the country’s public food distribution system (PDS). The cancellation was a stark acknowledgment that when people are hungry, armaments won’t keep a country secure.(...more)
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
More than 8,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began a year ago, and many more injured . Fearing ill-treatment at official hospitals, demonstrators have sought help at underground clinics. One Damascus surgeon tells his story.(...more)
Monday, 12 March 2012
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The wildly successful viral video campaign to raise global awareness of a brutal Central Africa rebel leader is attracting criticism from Ugandans, some who said Friday that the 30-minute video misrepresents the complicated history of Africa’s longest-running conflict.
The campaign by the advocacy group Invisible Children to make militia leader Joseph Kony a household name has received enormous attention on YouTube and other Internet sites this week.
But critics here said the video glosses over a complicated history that made it possible for Kony to rise to the notoriety he has today. They also lamented that the video does not inform viewers that Kony originally was waging war against Uganda’s army, whose human rights record has been condemned as brutal by independent observers.
“There is no historical context. It’s more like a fashion thing,” said Timothy Kalyegira, a well-known social critic in Uganda who once published a newsletter called The Uganda Record.(...more)
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Kroc Institute professor Larissa Fast has co-authored, edited, or contributed to 7 new reports on ways to increase the safety and security of humanitarian workers worldwide. The reports include research findings and recommendations for the humanitarian community during a time in which targeted killings, kidnappings, and attacks on aid workers are on the rise…. More, including links to reports
Friday, 17 February 2012
Seeking Justice Elsewhere: The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group land claim case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights | Vancouver 23 February
Free public talk: Thursday February 23, 2012, 7:00 pm, Vancouver Public Library, 350 W. Georgia St., Alice MacKay room, Lower Level. (Poster)
Attention BC lawyers – Approved for CPD credits
The fertile Cowichan Valley is part of the traditional homeland of the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (HTG), comprised of: Lake Cowichan First Nation, Halalt First Nation, Penelakut Tribe, Lyackson First Nation, and the Stz’uminus First Nation. During the late 19th century most of this land was seized for the benefit of settlers. Over 237,000 hectares containing valuable timber, coal, and other resources were given to the E&N railroad corporation. No treaty or law permitted this; no compensation was paid.
Despite over a century of attempts HTG nations to negotiate a settlement, Canada continues to permit widespread clear-cutting, deforestation, and environmentally destructive development activities throughout the seized territory. Most of the territory has now passed into the ownership of three forestry corporations: TimberWest Forest Corporation, Hancock Timber Resource Group, and Island Timberlands.
Canada’s failure to negotiate a settlement and respect HTG interests led the HTG to file a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS). Canada protested, arguing that the case should be heard in Canadian courts. The Commission ruled the case admissible because of Canada’s failure to resolve Indigenous land claims in a timely fashion. The hearing took place at the Commission’s headquarters in Washington D.C. on 28 October, 2011, and a decision is reserved. (read more…)(...more)
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
As both corporations and NGOs face increased public scrutiny, partnerships between them are supposed to represent a “win–win” for both sides, providing enhanced legitimacy to corporations and increased revenue and/or influence to NGOs. Ideally, if both sides become more accountable for their actions and face greater public scrutiny, their overall impact on society should improve over time. In particular, one could expect that if increased collaboration across the for-profit/nonprofit divide can be shown to yield such positive results, civil society could play a heightened role in shaping business practices and could thereby at least partially compensate for diminished governmental capacities in advancing human rights and environmental protection.
Yet, counter to the claims that increased accountability demands will improve business practices and strengthen the voice of NGOs, we argue here that such pressures—especially when translated into partnerships between corporations and nonprofits—actually increase the likelihood of co-optation and compromise the independence of NGOs.(...more)
Humanitarian action is a prominent part of the political and moral landscape of this 21st century. It has been a source of relief for innumerable people, and an essential expression of cosmopolitan solidarity. At the same time, it is a versatile concept, including Northern/Western expressions of mainstream humanitarianism, which encompass an ideology, a profession and a movement (Donini, 2010). Humanitarianism has been criticized on all these accounts (Pfeifer, 2004; Barnett and Weiss, 2008). Critics and analysts include scholars from various disciplines, such as political sciences, sociology and anthropology. Their reservations relate to the three broad categories of arguments: humanitarian actions themselves, political linkages (De Waal, 1997) and media representations (Hours, 1998a; Boltanski, 2000).(...more)
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
SEOUL — Activists in South Korea on Saturday sent winter socks carried by gas-filled balloons across the border to the impoverished North, where they can easily be exchanged for food.
One pair of socks is thought to fetch about 22 pounds (10 kilos) of corn — enough to sustain a person for a month in the hungry communist state.
About 800 pairs of socks were launched by four large balloons across the border from the northern city of Paju on Christmas Eve.
They were sent with leaflets containing a “politically innocuous” message, said Seoul-based aid group North Korea Peace, which plans to launch 1,000 pairs of socks every month.(...more)
Thursday, 22 December 2011
Write it down. Write it. With ordinary ink
on ordinary paper; they weren’t given food,
they all died of hunger. All. How many?
It’s a large meadow. How much grass
per head? Write down: I don’t know.
History rounds off skeletons to zero.
A thousand and one is still only a thousand.
That one seems never to have existed:
a fictitious fetus, an empty cradle,
a primer opened for no one,
air that laughs, cries, and grows,
stairs for a void bounding out to the garden,
no one’s spot in the ranks.
– Wieslawa Szymborska, Starvation Camp Near Jaslo
How does one get the measure of Kim Jong Il’s legacy in North Korea? His victims, like those of his father before him, are so many, in lives ended and lives stunted, that they become faceless and formless in our minds, like those tens of thousands of dancers in the mass performances Kim liked to stage. An Egyptian protester beaten, a Burmese dissident imprisoned, a Chinese blogger censored—such singular injustices are easier to grasp, and thus more likely to make us angry, and to spur us to act. The North Korean regime has been protected by the sheer enormity of its crimes, which discrete images cannot easily capture.(...more)