Headlines & Opinion
- UN Humanitarian Chief Warns of Chilling Impact Created by Counterterror Meausres in Syria
- Bill Aims to Promote Medical Neutrality, Impose Penalties on Violators
2013 & 2012
- Humanitarian Access to Syrians Must be Respected by Assad and the U.S.
- UN Officials and NGO Leader Urge Changes to Counterterrorism Measures that Harm Humanitarian Action
- State Department Calls for Acceess to Civilians, Respect for IHL in Syria
- CSN Blog: Addressing the Potential Impact of Legal Restrictions on Organizations Providing Humanitarian Assistance in Syria
- State Dept Calls for Access to Civilians, Respect for IHL in Syria
- Somalia Famine Death Toll Higher than Estimated, Inadequate Aid Among Factors
- Access Barriers Mean Aid Trickling into Syrian Opposition-Controlled Territory
- Holding Armed Groups Accountable
- USAID, Treasury Plan Audits of Programs Related to PVS, Somalia Aid, and OFAC’s License Database
- Senate Appropriations Report Requires Treasury/USAID to Address Barriers to Disaster Response
- Crises in Africa Showcase Complexity of Humanitarian Access in Conflict Zones
- The Hill: How to Help Somalia by Gabor Rona of Human Rights First and Kay Guinane of CSN
- U.S. Senators Call For Reforming Laws that Impede Humanitarian Assistance in Somalia
- Counterterrorism Regulations and Humanitarian Access to the Famine in Somalia
- Al Shabaab and Somalia's Spreading Famine
- State Department Releases New Policy to Allow Famine Aid to Somalia, Treasury Department Releases Limited Guidance
- The President Must Address Life and Death Policy Matters in Somalia
- US to Ease Anti-Terrorism Rules to Help Somali Famine Victims
- Anti-Terror Law Hinders Aid Efforts to Somalia
- Mercy Corps’ Jeremy Konyndyk: Will the US Stand by as Famine Looms in Somalia?
- Index Guages Quality og Humanitarian Assitance of Relief and Recovery
- Now is a Good Time for a Good Faith Standard
- IN-DEPTH: Legal Roadblocks for US Famine Relief to Somalia Creating Humanitarian Crisis
- Section by Section Summary: Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act
- Negotiating for Aid Delivery in Mali
Feb. 22, 2012 telebriefing on Somalia featuring Allan Jury, Director of the U.S. Relations Office for the World Food Programme and Vincent Cochetel, Regional Representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Audio file & transcript available here.
Aug. 10, 2011 telebriefing on Somalia featuring Eric D. Johnson, Associate General Counsel at CARE USA, and Kay Guinane. Audio file & Transcript available here.
- OFAC: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Private Relief Efforts in Somalia
- State Dept: Aug 2011 Press Briefing on Humanitarian Aid to the Horn of Africa
- The Impact of Counterterrorism Measures on Charities and Donors After 9/11 (Printable handout)
- State Dept: Aug 2011 Background Briefing on Somalia and Delivery of Humanitarian Assistance
- Brookings: Barriers to Access During Humanitarian Crisis
- MSF: Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed
- Sphere Handbook for Humanitarian Responders
- Talking to the Other Side - Humanitarian Negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia
- Counterterrorism Measures Stifle Humanitarian Action, by UN OCHA and the NRC
- CRS: Syria Overview of the Humanitarian Response
- UN/USAID: Inadequate Aid Contributed to Higher-than_Estimated Deaths in Somalia Famine
- Protect Humanitarian Space in Somalia
- Report Focuses on Facilitating Principled Humanitarian Action
- ODI: Why Militaries and NGOs Interact to Protect Civilians
- Paper: IHL and IHRL Work Together to Protect Rights of Civilians
- ODI: Negotiating Humanitarian Access
- Deadly Combination: Disaster, Conflict and the U.S. Material Support Law
- ODI: Humanitarian Action Harmed by Anti-Terror Laws
- Oxfam: Military Policy in Somalia Has Failed
- Humanitarian Space Under Fire in Somalia (DARA)
- Save the Children & Oxfam: Inaction and Delayed Response to Famine Cost Thousands of Lives
- Humanitarian Forum: 10 Ways the International Community Can Address Somalia's Crisis
- Security Measures that Restrict Humanitarian Access Hurt Vulnerable Civilians
- Oxfam Report Finds that Lack of Access Leaves Civilians Vulnerable
- Report: Lack of Access Leaves Civilians Vulnerable
- Report: More Aid Reduces Terrorism Threat in Horn of Africa
- Report: "Freind Not Foe" Documents Negative Impacts of Counterterrorism Measures, Calls on Civil Society to Defend Positive Role
Over the last decade counterterrorism measures (CTMs) like the Patriot Act are having a direct and adverse impact on humanitarian action conducted by aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a July 2013 study finds. Commissioned by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the study, titled Study of the Impact of Donor Counter-Terrorism Measures on Principled Humanitarian Action, examines CTMs in the U.S., European Union and several other countries and determined that they unduly restrict aid programs, increase risks for aid workers, limit funding sources, and undermine partnerships with local NGOs. International pressure on governments from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to adopt overly-restrictive regulations of NGOs to prevent terrorist financing also draws scrutiny in the study. The release announcement said, "The major conclusion is that the humanitarian community and donor States need to work more closely together to better reconcile counter-terrorism measures and humanitarian action." In September NRC and OCHA will host an event in New York to initiate such discussions.
A number of peacebuilding, humanitarian and advocacy organizations, including the Charity & Security Network, have called on the U.S. government to do more in facilitating peace between Israel and the Palestinian territories. The letter urges that "all [U.S.] policy decisions moving forward be made through an atrocities prevention lens that emphasizes the equal protection of civilians on all sides, focuses on building long-term peace and stability, and avoids actions that are likely to lead to further civilian deaths."
The letter specifically calls for: 1) prioritizing a ceasefire agreement, 2) supporting an investigation into international humanitarian law abuses on both sides, and 3) supporting the end of the blockade of Gaza. According to the letter, "The protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law must be applied universally. When the U.S. fails to advocate for the protection of civilians or support accountability for possible violations of humanitarian law – as it did in voting against the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation of violations of international law on all sides of the conflict – it undermines these core principles."
UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos criticized counterterrorism laws that create a chilling impact on humanitarian organizations working in places like Syria. In a July 1 BBC 4 radio segment, Amos argued that overboard restrictions in the name of countering terror are exacerbating the crisis. “Our humanitarian response has been slowed down in some areas and stopped altogether, and ultimately, people will die” said Amos.
The Medical Neutrality Act of 2013 (HR 2033)is a bipartisan bill that makes medical neutrality a policy priority of the U.S. by withholding military assistance, including training and arms sales, to any government that restricts access to medical services.
An Oxfam report warns that Somalia is in a "severe crisis" which, without an influx of aid, may end up becoming even worse in the coming months. The current conditions in Somalia are an improvement over previous years, but remain far from acceptable. 50,000 children are severely malnourished, 1.1 million are displaced and only 30% of the population has access to clean drinking water.
Despite these troubling numbers, only 12% of Somalia's humanitarian funding needs have been met this year, a shortfall of $822 million. Without additional funding soon, there is "a very real risk that people still in need will not be reached and those already helped will fall back into crisis."
A global vigil to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Syria will take place around the world this March. The civil war in Syria has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people and has displaced millions of women, men and children. The vigils seek to shed light on the conflict and spur concerted action from world leaders. On March 13 several iconic buildings around the world will be illuminated to urge the international community to take action.
#WithSyria was created to coordinate the global campaign. The website provides resources including a listing of vigils and events planned, and tools for creating your own vigil. #WithSyria includes a coalition of prominent organizations from around the world seeking 1) an end to the bloodshed in Syria, 2) Unimpeded humanitarian aid to those impacted by the fighting, and 3) A commitment from all side to inclusive peace-talks.
From: Fars News Agency, Feb. 23, 2014
The Saturday resolution does not threaten sanctions but it does express the council's intention to take "further steps" if the resolution is not implemented, Al-Alam reported.
The foreign-backed militants hold several areas in the country under siege, leaving tens of thousands of people suffering from lack of food and medicine.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move, but said the resolution "should not have been necessary".
The Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act of 2013
Section by Section Summary
To permit humanitarian assistance to civilian populations in areas of conflict or disaster when carried out in good faith and with certain safeguards.
Section 1. Short Title
The Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act of 2012.