Headlines & Opinion
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
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.
In the days leading up to the Syrian peace conference taking place in Switzerland, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reported that the government permitted humanitarian supplies to reach nearly 10,000 people living in the suburbs of Damascus. While that is welcome news, other reports out of Syria indicate that aid is being used by both sides of the conflict to reward its allies and punish the other side. “The message from the regime is clear,” says one humanitarian who runs programs in Damascus. “‘If you are with us, we will assist you; if you aren’t, we will besiege you and starve you.’”
As world leaders gather to discuss the fate of millions of Syrians under siege, aid groups call on both sides to allow unfettered access to reach civilians in need. “The very least that these different fighters can provide is a pause to allow the humanitarians to get in and provide that emergency relief,” WFP’s Syria Country Director Matthew Hollingworth said.
The Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act (HR 3526), which was filed in November 2013, was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee's subcommitee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations on Jan. 9, 2014. The bill removes legal restrictions on nonprofit organizations seeking to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in areas where terrorist groups operate and on peacebuilding groups working to end armed conflict.
A drastic reduction in humanitarian assistance, widespread conflict and drought combined to make the 2011 famine in Somalia the most deadly in the past 25 years, a May 2013 study finds. Commissioned by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSnet), the study estimates that between October 2010 and April 2012, nearly five percent of the region's population and 10 percent of its children died because of severe food shortages. It also noted “that limited access to most of the affected population, resulting from widespread insecurity and operating restrictions imposed by several relief agencies, was a major constraint.” [p. 5] The presence of al-Shabab, a group on the U.S. terrorist list, in famine affected areas made legal restrictions an issue for aid groups.
Published by the Humanitarian Policy Group in December 2013, Talking to the Other Side –Humanitarian Negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia is an in-depth study that sheds light on dynamics and details of negotiations between aid organizations and Al-Shabaab, primarily between 2008 and the famine of 2011. It provides historical context to the impossible choices facing aid agencies and details how both Al-Shabaab and the actions of donor government
An Oct. 25, 2013 Op Ed from Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “systematic denial of medical assistance, food supplies, and other humanitarian aid” to the Syrian people an “intolerable” act. Kerry’s piece comes in response to the unabated denial of humanitarian access perpetrated by the Assad government, and exacerbated by the patchwork of opposition groups also blocking and diverting aid.
From Nita Bahlla, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Oct. 9, 2013