Fall 2013: Session 2
Session II: HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE IN CONFLICT SETTINGS (with focus on Syria)
This session will consider what it is like to be a “humanitarian” actor in a conflict setting today. What is the role of humanitarian agencies like CRS in a conflict zone and how does CRS ensure access to populations in need? The session will focus on the complexities of conflict today and what is referred to as “the shrinking humanitarian space.” Key humanitarian principles will be introduced and the way emergency response relates to peacebuilding will be addressed. Ultimately, students will be led to think about the responsibilities and limits of the international community towards vulnerable populations. Recommended resources are in bold.
- Students will be introduced to the key principles of humanitarian action in conflict settings (including the definitions of neutrality and impartiality) and CRS’ principles.
- Students will be exposed to features of humanitarian crisis settings and be introduced to the complexities of doing aid work in conflict settings.
- As a focus, students will be introduced to the term “humanitarian access” and observe that it must be negotiated and differs in different settings. Note: We will not be discussing CRS’ specific access in these settings, rather learning about access more generally.
- Students will think about solidarity and the role they might play in responding to acute need worldwide.
1.) Nature of the Problem and Challenges
- “CRS’ Bishop Kicanas Visits Tent Camp for Syrians in Lebanon,” by Jim Stipe, Catholic Relief Services Newswire, June 11, 2013. This blog-style essay is a detailed description of what Bishop Kicanas saw as he visited with Syrians impacted by displacement.
- “Syria Crisis: Nostalgia Amid Need” by Caroline Brennan, Catholic Relief Services. The business of Karim, a shoemaker, was destroyed during bombings in Syria. He, his wife, Zahaya, and their year-old son also lost their home to the violence. The family has been living in a tent in Lebanon since late June 2013. Learn their story.
- “One in a Million,” March 2013. This one-page infographic from UNHCR packages needs and numbers of the Syrian displaced in an easy-to-understand format.
- “Syria’s Metastisising Conflict” This policy brief can serve as an introduction to the Syrian conflict’s various actors and its regional and international implications.
- “UNHCR Warns of Humanitarian Cost of Syrian Conflict, Especially on Displaced,” February 2013. Recounts a speech by UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Erika Feller and highlights the issue of sexual violence for those displaced in the Syrian conflict.
- “Stories from Syrian Refugees,” UNHCR. This resource includes facts and figures on the numbers of people displaced by the conflict and the scope of the humanitarian aid needed.
- “The Battle for Syria,” Frontline. Part one of this film features narrated footage of a reporter’s embedding with members of the Syrian insurgency. Part two details the background and regional implications of the conflict. Together, both parts are approximately 40 minutes in length.
- Map of region
2.) Essential Guiding Principles
- “The Guiding Principles of Catholic Relief Services – USCCB; The Guiding Principles Addendum” Excerpts from CRS Core Protection Training Modules: Participant Workbook, pp. 29-33
- “Humanitarian Code of Conduct,” Excerpts from CRS Core Protection Training Modules: Participant Workbook, p. 35-36. Students can identify themes of independence, neutrality, and impartiality in this “Code of Conduct,” used widely in the field.
- “What is Humanitarian Access?” Info Sheet from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- “The Role of NGOs and Civil Society in Humanitarian Response,” Lecture by Mark Schnellbaecher, former CRS Director for Middle East and North Africa. Schnellbaecher outlines the complexity and range of actors involved in humanitarian work in the field today and CRS’ commitment to protection and assistance.
- Jesuit Refugee Service Glossary of Terms
- “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Excerpts from CRS Core Protection Training Modules: Participant Workbook, pp. 41-46.
- “The Geneva Conventions,” Excerpts from CRS Core Protection Training Modules: Participant Workbook, pp. 47-53.
3.) CRS Strategies: Assisting Refugees and Promoting Peace
- Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, June 19, 2013 (from Bishop Richard Pates, Chair of USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Chair of CRS Board).
- “G-8 Leaders Must Convert Words to Action Against Sexual Violence in War Zones,” op-ed by CRS President Carolyn Woo, June 18, 2013, Christian Science Monitor.
- “CRS World Report: Women and Children Refugees Continue to Flee Syria”
- “How CRS Can Be a Better Partner,” Excerpt from Protocol for Relations with Church Partners, pp. 4-6. Working in partnership with local organizations, particularly the local Catholic Church, is a key part of CRS’ work. This document is the result of reflection between CRS staff from country programs and Church partners, and discusses how CRS can be in partnership in a way that promotes CRS’ core principles.
4.) What We Can Do
- “Syrian Refugee Crisis: Can the Breaking Point be Prevented?” Elizabeth Ferris and Jana Mason, Global Post, June, 27, 2013. This op-ed by Ferris, co-director and senior fellow at LSE Project on Internal Displacement, the Brookings Institution, and Mason, senior adviser for Government Relations and External Affairs at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees concludes that more donor money is urgently needed in Syria.
- “Oxfam: Syria Might be Worse than Darfur,” John Hudson, Foreign Policy, May 2013. This article discusses humanitarian needs around the conflict in Syria and the relative disinterest of the American public.
- Catholics Confront Global Poverty Syria Action Alert
- CRS University
5.) Additional Videos
- “Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: A Harsh Reality,” Caritas Lebanon
- “Story from the Field: Syrian Refugees,” Caritas Lebanon
- “Lebanon: Family Feast,” UNHCR
- “Turkey: Saving Fatmeh,” UNHCR
- “Turkey: Supporting Syrian Refugees,” UNHCR
Note: Any external resources are provided for additional information and do not represent the view of CRS.