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University Of Washington International Humanitarian Aids in Disasters Discussion

Please Critically answer a discussion board question related to humanitarian aids in disaster. Please have a look!Given what we have discussed this semester and this week’s reading, discuss your thoughts on the evolving causes of crises. How do you see the described changes impacting humanitarian aid? How would you prepare and respond to this changing landscape?

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Planning from the Future
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Component 2. The Contemporary Humanitarian Landscape:
Malaise, Blockages and Game Changers
No End in Sight:
A Case Study of Humanitarian Action and
the Syria Conflict
Kimberly Howe
January 2016
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Table&of&Contents&
Acronyms ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
Acknowledgements …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 4
Abstract …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
Planning from the Future—the Project …………………………………………………………………………… 5
Component 2—the Humanitarian Landscape Today ………………………………………………………… 6
Introduction to the Case Study: The Syria Crisis…………………………………………………………………. 6
Methodology ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Background to the Conflict ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
Stakeholder Analysis ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Conflict and Political Actors…………………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Humanitarian Actors ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
Donors from the West and the Rest ………………………………………………………………………….. 11
LNGOs, INGOs, and the United Nations ………………………………………………………………….. 12
Major Themes and Defining Characteristics …………………………………………………………………….. 14
The Conflict Environment ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 14
Protection …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
The Politics of Engagement and Access, Humanitarian Principles in Practice …………………… 18
Inside Government-Controlled Areas ……………………………………………………………………….. 19
Cross-Border Operations ………………………………………………………………………………………… 21
Remote Management …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
Donor Influence ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25
The West and Cash ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25
Non-Western Donors ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 26
Syrian Local Organizations and Partnerships with Western and Non-Western Donors …… 26
Humanitarian Systems and the “Whole of Syria” Approach ……………………………………………. 27
Working Relationships, Fragmentation, and (Mis) Trust ………………………………………………… 30
The Refugee Response ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 32
Turkey ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 32
Jordan …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 33
Lebanon………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 34
Key Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 36
Conflict and Protection ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 36
The System……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37
Humanitarian Operations ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 38
Implications………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 40
References ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 41
Notes …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 47
Acronyms&
3RP
CCCM
CSO
DFID
DTO
ECHO
EU
FIC
FSA
GoJ
GoL
GoS
GoT
HC
HCT
HNO
HPF
HPG
IASC
ICRC
IDP
IHL
INGO
ISCCG
ISIS
LNGO
M&E
NFIs
NGO
OCHA
ODI
OHCHR
PFF
PKK
PYD
R2P
RHC
SAMS
SARC
SGBV
SHARP
SIG
SIMAWG
Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan
Camp Coordination and Camp Management
civil society organization
Department for International Development, UK Government
designated terrorist organization
European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office
European Union
Feinstein International Center at Tufts University
Free Syria Army
Government of Jordan
Government of Lebanon
Government of Syria
Government of Turkey
Humanitarian Coordinator
Humanitarian Country Team
Humanitarian Needs Overview
Humanitarian Pooled Fund
Humanitarian Policy Group
Inter-Agency Standing Committee
International Committee for the Red Cross/Red Crescent
internally displaced person
International Humanitarian Law
international NGO
inter sector/cluster coordination group
Daesh or the Islamic State
local NGO
monitoring and evaluation
non-food items
non-governmental organization
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Overseas Development Institute
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Planning for the Future
Kurdistan Worker’s Party
Democratic Union Party
responsibility to protect
Regional Humanitarian Coordinator
Syrian American Medical Society
Syrian Arab Red Crescent
sexual and gender-based violence
Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan
Syrian Interim Government
Syria Information Management and Assessment Working Group
SNC
SOC
SRP
SSG
TPM
TPS
UAE
UK
UN
UNDP
UNHCR
UNICEF
UNRWA
UNSC
US
USAID
USG
WASH
WFP
WoS
YPG
Syrian National Council
Syrian Opposition Coalition
Syria Response Plan
strategic steering group
Third Party Monitoring
temporary protective status
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United Nations
United Nations Development Program
United Nations High Commission for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians in the Near East
United Nations Security Council
United States
United States Agency for International Development
United States Government
water and sanitation
World Food Program
Whole of Syria
Kurdish People’s Protection Units
Acknowledgements&&
The author would like to thank Max Marder for his extensive literature review and analysis on
the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis. She also thanks Dan Maxwell and Antonio Donini
for their support and (tireless) encouragement for refinement. An extra thank you to Antonio for
his insights on the closing sections of this paper.
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4!
Abstract&
As part of a larger research project—Planning from the Future—which examines the past,
present, and future of humanitarian action globally, this case study identifies the main blockages
and game changers in the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis. Findings are based on
reports, news sources, and academic writings, as well as key informant interviews with 52
representatives of donor countries, the United Nations, international NGOs and Syrian local
organizations working inside Syria, cross-border, and within neighboring countries. The
humanitarian system has largely failed in Syria. The scale of the conflict and humanitarian need
constitute one of the largest crises of our time, and only a fraction of humanitarian needs are
currently met by the system. Humanitarian action has been used as a fig leaf for political inaction
and has been highly politicized and influenced by donor interests and political preferences,
clashing with the application of first-order humanitarian principles. Meaningful protection
continues to remain elusive and humanitarian leadership has been weak while mistrust within
and between organizations runs high. Humanitarian actors are trapped by their mandates, and
donors are risk averse. As a result, interventions are largely driven by what agencies can do,
rather than what is needed. Those in the most need—the besieged, civilians under ISIS control,
Palestinians—are the least served. Gulf countries, despite their presence and influence, are
largely excluded from the Western-driven humanitarian systems, as are Syrian organizations,
which are the primary humanitarian actors on the ground. Extreme insecurity and GoS
restrictions have led nearly all humanitarian operations to follow remote management models.
The middle-income status of neighboring countries has allowed for creative programming using
cash, iris scanners, and the private sector, although these “innovations” were also late to the
scene. Despite these failures, the Syria crisis has also shown how effective and inspiring local
humanitarian responses can be, whether Syrian grass-roots initiatives, diaspora organizations’
action, the protective use of social media, civil society groups’ bravery, intricate and complex
communication systems, or volunteers on the shores of Greece and in the Balkans.
Planning&from&the&Future—the&Project&
Kings College (London), The Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute
(HPG/ODI) in London and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University (FIC) are
partnering on a 15-month research project “Planning From the Future: Crisis, Challenge,
Change in Humanitarian Action.” The research looks at the past, present and future of
humanitarian action:


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HPG leads the analysis of the blockages in the past and how these have led to changes in
the humanitarian architecture (Component 1).
FIC identifies the key blockages and game changers in the humanitarian landscape today
(Component 2) and at urgent measures to reform it that could immediately be taken
(Component 3).
5!


Kings College looks at the future and asks whether improvements contemplated today
will be adequate to meet the growing vulnerabilities, dimensions, and dynamics of
humanitarian crises in the longer term (Component 4).
The three partners will then come together to provide a synthesis of their findings and
recommendations in a final report to be issued in early 2016 (Component 5).
Component&2—the&Humanitarian&Landscape&Today&
Despite impressive growth, institutionalization, and professionalization, the humanitarian system
is facing an existential crisis. While time-tested tools, funds, and capacities are readily available,
the system has succumbed to a widespread malaise and is not delivering. Recent crises from
Afghanistan to Somalia, Haiti, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan as well as current emergencies—Syria,
South Sudan, Central African Republic, among other less visible crises—question the very
foundations of humanitarianism and the galaxy of institutions that pursue humanitarian goals.
The intractable nature of many crises and the instrumental use of humanitarian action to cover up
for the political failures of the so-called international community are leading to a growing
realization that the humanitarian system as presently constituted is not fit for purpose—and
growing dissonance about what the purpose should be.
As part of Component 2, FIC is producing a series of papers that capitalize on recent or ongoing
research. These include case studies that analyze blockages and game changers affecting
humanitarian action in recent crises—and what these crises tell us about the state of the
humanitarian enterprise. FIC has also prepared background papers on emerging or underresearched policy and operational or systemic issues that need to be better understood because of
how they affect the changing humanitarian landscape.
Introduction&to&the&Case&Study:&The&Syria&Crisis& &
The conflict in Syria and the resulting humanitarian crisis have resounded in one way or another
throughout most of the world. Peaceful protests against an authoritarian regime in March 2011
sparked violent retaliation by the government and the arming of a (fragmented) opposition,
plunging the country into an infernal civil war, with spillover effects to Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon,
Jordan, Palestine, and Israel, as well as Europe and Africa. Estimates vary on the number of
Syrians killed since the start of the conflict, but a variety of sources currently puts the figure at
over 250,000 people.1 This includes at least 185,000 civilians, or 75 percent of the total
estimated deaths, of which 20,000 are children (SNHR 2015).
Syria’s population numbered 22 million before the conflict, and an estimated half the population
have been displaced from their homes (Mercy Corps 2016). Syrians registering as refugees in
neighboring countries number 4.3 million, and an additional 2 million Syrians are believed to
live in host countries under alternative legal frameworks or without official status (UNHCR
2015a).2 This figure includes an estimated 500,000 Syrians who have arrived in Europe by boat
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during 2015 (The Associated Press Berlin 2015). But the conflict is not just about death and
displacement. More than three-quarters of Syrians are living in poverty and two-thirds in extreme
poverty. The United Nations estimates that the current “total number of people in need” in Syria
is 13.5 million, which includes 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) (OCHA 2015a).
The scale of the conflict and the magnitude of humanitarian need constitute one of the largest
crises of our time, posing significant challenges to contemporary humanitarian architecture.
Within Syria, the conflict and response are highly politicized, often described as a proxy war,
with local, regional, and global powers influencing the landscape. Protection has taken a back
seat despite the on-going targeting of civilians by government and non-government actors that
have led to grave human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, and blatant violations of
international humanitarian law (IHL). Humanitarian access remains an enormous challenge, with
remote management modalities the norm. The humanitarian response has been deeply divided
and fragmented among multiple fault lines—including geography (cross-border/cross-frontlines), relationships within and between agencies, and leadership structures. The “Whole of
Syria” integrated approach introduced by the United Nations in 2014, with mixed success, has
attempted to bring together multiple operational centers and organizations to build trust, share
information, and improve coordination. New modalities have been tested and employed, but the
appropriateness of “regular” interventions for largely urban, non-camp based populations in
middle-income countries remains questionable. Humanitarian principles, in concept and practice,
are constantly challenged in this atmosphere.
Methodology&
This case study draws on reports, news sources, and academic writings as well as key-informant
interviews with 52 representatives of donor countries, the United Nations, international NGOs
(INGOs) and Syrian local NGOS (LNGOs) working on the humanitarian response to the Syrian
conflict. Interviews were held over Skype and in person in Amman, Beirut, Istanbul, and
Gaziantep during the last quarter of 2015 and January 2016. Key informants work at the regional
level or within refugee receiving countries or hold positions concerned with cross-border
activities from Lebanon, Turkey, or Jordan. While interviews were conducted with humanitarian
actors within opposition-controlled Syria, few interviews were possible with key informants
operating inside government-controlled areas. This omission arises from security considerations,
travel restrictions (for the author), and the inability for those inside Syria to speak freely without
surveillance. As such, key informants who had previous experience in government-controlled
Syria were sought out for interviews. Another limitation was that the author was not able to
interview donors from Gulf countries.
Findings here overwhelmingly represent the perceptions of interviewees, but are fact-checked
and independently referenced whenever possible. Key-informant names are not included in this
report to respect confidentiality. Results are also buttressed with data from two previous studies
conducted by this author, which focused on Syrian NGOs, local councils, the Syrian Opposition
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7!
Coalition (SOC) and Syrian Interim Government (SIG), and international organizations
operating from southern Turkey into Syria.3
Background&to&the&Conflict&
In February 2011, “The People Want to Topple the Regime” was spray-painted on the walls of a
school in the southern city of Daraa (Thompson, 2015). The authors—a group of teenage boys—
were promptly jailed and tortured, sparking popular protests across the city in March. Security
forces of the government of Syria (GoS) opened fire on demonstrators, prompting a streak of
protests in various locations throughout the country. This event is most often referred to as the
“spark” that set in motion the revolution. By July 2011, hundreds of thousands of people were
regularly protesting (Rodgers et al. 2015). Demands included the resignation of President Bashar
Al-Assad and broad political reforms including the freedom of press, speech, and assembly; the
existence of multiple political parties; and equal rights for Kurdish people. The GoS met these
demands by opening fire on some demonstrators and the widespread detention and torture of
others. Snipers forced people out of public spaces, water and electricity were shut off, and food
was confiscated in locations where the protests were most pronounced (Cornell University
Library 2015).
In response, supporters of the opposition organized and armed themselves. Rebel brigades
formed and wrested control from the government in several locations (Rodgers et al. 2015).
Localized “civil unrest” was classified by ICRC as civil war by the end of 2012 when the
number of casualties reached the threshold for “internal armed conflict” under the Geneva
Conventions. An opposition government in exile—the Syrian National Council4 (SNC)—was
formed towards the end of 2011. This body included several factions such as the Syrian Muslim
Brotherhood (banned in Syria since the 1980s), Kurdish groups, the Damascus Declaration
Group (a pro-democracy network), and other dissidents (Cornell University Library 2015). The
SNC formed the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) in 2014, supported by technical assistance
from a variety of countries and financially backed at the outset by the government of Qatar.
Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring—which swept from Tunisia through North Africa into
the Middle East—it is no surprise that Syrians engaged in peaceful protests demanding political
and civil rights. Violent repression of popular movements seen to challenge the central authority
is not new in Syria. The country has long been held under auth…

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