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August 2014
Professionalising the Humanitarian Sector
The struggle for expanding humanitarian education
Thoughts from Places
The best tips from NOHA cities
NOHAs in the Philippines
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Credits
CONTENTS
4
Upcoming Events
5
Abbreviation Bingo
6
Professionalising the humanitarian
sector
8
Thoughts from NOHA places
17
NOHA Students Reflect on Their
Motivation and Driving Forces
20
NOHAs in the Philippines
Designers: Victoria Retondaro and Natalia Elosegui
24
Georgia
Contributors: Nebojša Ratković, Delphine Tyč, Janne de Jong, Mariana Messner, Magdalena Dahla, and Anna Görs
30
My experience at ECHO
34
Trends and the future with
Roy Williams
38
Soldiers are not social workers with
guns
44
The Joint Programme Committee
Co-Editors: Brook duBois and Claire Louise Travers
Writers:
Kristian Rocafort,
Claire Louise Travers,
Iñaki Borda,
Maria-Charlotte Tribaudeau,
Simon Stermann,
Brook duBois,
Keith Mattingly,
Alice Vantournhoud
Siân Cook,
Lina Eriksson,
K. Rasool
AUGUST
2014
N° 17
Cover photo: EC/ECHO/ Anouk Delafortrie (front) and EC/ECHO/ Martin
Karimi (back)
WITH THE SUPPORT OF
iN PARTNERSHIP WITH
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upcoming
events
2014-2016
WARSAW: SEPTEMBER 6-14_ 2014 NOHA Intensive Programme
Berlin: October 10-11_XVI. Humanitarian Congress Berlin
Brussels: October 20-24_NOHA Fall School
Brussels - November 12-13_AidEx 2014
Istanbul - May 11-12, 2016_World Humanitarian Summit
And don’t forget to always check the NOHA Alumni website
and Facebook for upcoming NOHA Out Loud events!
©NOHA International Association of Universities
©NOHA Alumni
©NOHA International Association of Universities
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abbreviation
bingo
The world of humanitarian aid is littered with abbreviations. So many that a report’s executive summary might
look like an eye exam. Here is a non-exhaustive beginners list of some abbreviations and acronyms that might
come up at the IP. Consider it a form of bingo. Or a drinking game. Or try to make a secret message with them.
Abbreviations are fun.
AU
AP
CAP
CESCR
CHAP
DDR
DPA
DPKO
DRR
ECHO
ECOWAS
EU
FEWSNET
HAP
IASC
ICC
ICCPR
ICJ
ICTR
ICTY
IDP
IMF
MDG
NGO
NFI
OCHA
UN
UNICEF
UNFPA
WASH
WFP
WHO
African Union
Additional Protocol
Consolidated Appeal Process
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights
Common humanitarian action plan
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration
UN Department of Political Affairs
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Disaster Risk Reduction
European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil
Protection department
Economic Community of West African States
European Union
Famine Early Warning Systems Network
Humanitarian Accountability Partnership
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (for humanitarian
action)
International Criminal Court
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Court of Justice
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yogoslavia
Internally Displaced Person
International Monetary Fund
Millennium Development Goals
Non-Government Organisations
Non-food Items
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
United Nations
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Population Fund
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
World Food Programme
Worl Health Organisation
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Professionalising the humanitarian sector:
Education for the global south?
Op-Ed
by K. Rocafort
Going to the field, supporting the local population, and managing national colleagues all seem too familiar for a
Western aid worker. This has been the trend since the post-Cold War era, where the humanitarian sector has increased
in number and weight, coherently dealing with issues of professionalization. Professionalization means being able
to alleviate human suffering and bring assistance to the people in need in the most efficient and effective manner.
Education, meanwhile, is a growing component to enhance and professionalize the humanitarian sector. However,
one can rightfully scrutinize where it stands in terms of coverage and availability particularly for people coming from
the global south.
Statistics from Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELHRA), 2010 shows that the
majority of degree programmes relating to humanitarian action are concentrated in the Western hemisphere. Just
by simply browsing the web, different universities from Europe, North America, and Australia are the apparent
concentration points for these studies. In addition, one should be cognizant of the amount of fees that some universities
charge is beyond affordable for normal students coming from developing countries. Fortunate are those awarded
with scholarships and grants. But for other aspiring humanitarians from the developing world this can be quite
demotivating. The skills and knowledge coming from these students can be an integral part of a multi-disciplinary
and international learning process. However, with the aforementioned challenges, the risk is high that students just
do not pursue studies abroad.
Currently, there are still few statistics available about how many students from developing countries are joining these
academic programmes focused on humanitarian action. Based on conversations with this writer and different people
who have done similar programmes in the past, it is a common trend that the composition of students are international,
but mainly coming from the Western hemisphere. If the humanitarian sector is indeed serious in providing local
capacity building, one part is to realise that both education and experience are necessary.
Having a standard curriculum is essential, while expanding the coverage of the humanitarian action academic
programmes is another. It should serve as an awakening call for different stakeholders that there are people coming
from developing countries that want to help and shape the sector too. To be fair, there are growing initiatives to
expand the scope of humanitarian education, such as the NOHA Master’s programme which has increasing ties with
universities outside Europe such as: Colombia, Indonesia, South Africa, India, and Lebanon. These programs should
take more initiative to be inclusive and accessible to prospective students regardless of location or fees.
If there is a global vision to revolutionize the humanitarian sector towards professionalization and institutionalization,
one step is to open up educational opportunities and broaden the scope with a specific focus on developing countries.
Although the core humanitarian principles were born in the West, more and more people from around the globe have
started to become interested and involved in the desire of helping themselves and their communities.
©EC/ECHO
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AIX:
M.C. TRIBAUDEAU
Aix is a cute tiny city, in the warmest
part of France - here, in the beautiful
landscape of Provence. Here the sun
will shine 95 per cent of the time.
Edited and collated by C. Travers
THOUGHTS FROM
PLACES
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The NOHA course in Aix is focused
on law, taught in the French way.
Don’t expect to receive 6 hours a week
of class and submit some papers. Instead, you will have to take notes
from a number of diverse classes,
and keep those in mind to accomplish
some exercises. You will also have a
72 hour group simulation to integrate
a project in a CAP, and a five day
training with the French army to prepare you for the field and kidnapping
realities. You will have to process a
mock asylum seeker in France, and
will get good preparation on project
management with professionals who
have worked in Haiti, the Philippines,
Afghanistan, and Burkina Faso. It is
intense, but you will learn a lot.
Be flexible and adaptive as (any humanitarian will be) regarding the
timetables (which can changes a lot
from week to week). You will be a minority in the class of approximately
60, but don’t be uncomfortable. After
long days of classes (sometimes from
9 am to 8 pm), you will find plenty to
do and see with your new peers. As
we say in France, “après l’effort, le réconfort” or “Work hard, play hard”.
The city offers typical French Provençal-Mediterranean food markets
and flea markets on almost every day
of the week, appearing in different
squares of the city. The Place de la
Mairie is a favourite.
The university is quite small, and so
the library is crowded. But try the
much appreciated public library; an
active place of cultural exhibitions
(this year was Albert Camus’ celebration!).
Student life is very alive in Aix. You
will probably live 10-15 minutes
from the centre, so rent a bike, and be
your own guide. La Place des Quart
d’Heures is a place where you can
find nice restaurants, bars and terraces, but also the cheapest beer of
the city. This is a NOHA student favourite. Your class will be one of the
smallest in the network, if the past
is anything to go by, so you’ll go out
regularly.
Go further afield and take a walk on
the Mount St Victoire, for great views
of the countryside around Aix. Or
take a covoiturage (covoiturage.fr)
to Lyon for the Festival des Lumières,
Montpellier, Nice, Nimes, Menton
or St Tropez. All make a nice minicity-break to escape on a weekend.
And 30 minutes away you will find
Marseille, and the airport offering a
number of low cost airlines to Spain,
Portugal and Italy.
If you are uncomfortable in French at
the beginning of debates and classes,
don’t worry about trying in English
first. There will be a diversity of nationalities in the classes, speaking in
Arabic, Spanish, and English. So don’t
worry about the language barriers.
After four months they will fall away.
Solidarity is ruling “qualificatif” of
Aix-promos. Don’t be afraid of your
level of French, just try the experience, and you won’t regret it.
A street scene in Aix-en-Provence/ Maria-Charlotte Tribaudeau
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BILBAO:
BOCHUM:
I. BORDA
Trees that are painted with
bright colors. Mountains
that end where the sea begins. Huge steel combs that
brush the wind. Waves that
threaten to swallow entire ochre-sand beaches
and those who dare to ride
them. Small mouthfuls of
food that astonish the most
traveled and experienced
gourmets. A sombre past
but a bright present and future. This and much, much
more is what the Basque
Country has to offer.
Located in the north eastern part of Spain, the
Basque Country is green
and blue. Blue because of
the Bay of Biscay and green
for the hundreds of mountain ranges that, scattered
throughout the territory,
have enabled the region
to protect and preserve its
ancient legacy over centuries, materialized in a distinct culture and a unique
language, Basque. Bilbao,
once a grey industrial city,
now thrives as one of the
finest metropolises in the
country. But don’t let its
over 350 000 inhabitants
fool you; Bilbao’s perfect
size (not too small, not too
big) allows everybody who
is willing to enjoy an innumerable array of activities:
the beach is equidistant
from the mountain, the Old
City and its entangled alleys burst with a myriad of
bars and terraces where a
glass of wine and a “pintxo”,
a tapas-like food delight,
turn into the perfect and
most inexpensive plan for
weekend evenings. Not to
S. STERMANN
The Nervión River in Bilbao, Spain/ Keith Mattingly
mention the cultural scene:
concerts and expositions
abound alike and museums
host worldwide-recognized
temporary exhibitions.
It is the Guggenheim museum, however, and the
enormous steel and marble
spider that guards it, which
attracts the majority of visitors. Its ship-shaped structure, mainly made of glass
and titanium, will surely
take your breath away. It
is there, right in front of it,
and with the Nervión river
flowing in between, where
the University of Deusto
lies majestic. Do not worry,
though. You will not spend
much of your time inside
this limestone building.
The workload is not too
heavy, and the schedule is
rather intermittent, which
allows you to explore the
city and its surroundings.
Day-long-excursions include climbing the 231
steps that lead to the top of
Gaztelugatxe, a small islet
where a small yet charming hermitage rests. Once
up there, do not forget to
ring the bell three times
should you want to have
a wish come true. Further
along the coast and a little
bit over an hour away from
Bilbao, the magical city of
San Sebastian will surely
be worth a visit.
These are some “to-do” and practical
information that cannot be left out:
Eating out: During the day, many places offer “Menú del
día” (entrée, main course and dessert) for €10. For those
willing to spend more money, Bar Iruña, El Globo, La Viña
and Vitoke stand out as the most remarkable restaurants
in the city. If keen on a more elaborate and traditional
Basque cuisine, Arriaga Sidrería is the place.
Nightlife: Somera street, in the Old City could be a nice
start, to be followed by drinks in Pozas street. Finish the
night at any of the clubs on Mazarredo street. And remember, the party goes on until the sun rises.
Where to live: University of Deusto offers special pro-
grammes that are worth checking out if you are on a tight
budget. The areas of Deusto, Sarriko and San Inazio are
the closest to the university. The Old City is a bit pricier
but also more charming. The most well-located and exclusive areas are Moyua and Indautxu. The whole city,
and the surrounding towns, is well connected by buses, a
tram, and metro.
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September 2013, Warsaw:
I’ve finally arrived in the
new chapter of my life.
Warsaw is the springboard
to five months of the NOHA
Master´s in Bochum. Unexpectedly, the common
reactions I hear when talking about universities is
“oh, I am sorry”; “Bochum
is said to be the ugliest
NOHA city”; and “it is only
five months, then you´ll be
somewhere nicer”. Oh my
goodness, am I still looking
forward to Bochum? Two
days later I bumped into
a grey-haired man during
the coffee break. After my
apologies for his spoiled
cup of coffee he simply
looks at me saying “hopefully you´re in Bochum.
I hate students!” He gives
me a grin, laughs and walks
away. Funny! I changed my
mind: Bochum is going to
be fun.
Yes, everything is true
about the concrete, the
grey, the rain, and the people. However, the truth is,
despite its aesthetic, Bochum is the only city I was
able to finance myself in.
My flat was a small palace – of course made of
concrete. My flatmates
were international and super fun. Bochum seems
to attract quite the intelligent folks; and going out
is cheap. I like the concept
of six-hour classes per day
all week and appreciated
it even more in my second
semester once outside Bochum. The NOHA staff always was, and still is, very
dedicated. I liked school.
Additionally, 2014 saw the
a move to a new NOHA
building as well.
However, school only is one
part of my life:
Borussia
Dortmund!,
Schalke (don´t go there),
Essen and further at least
half a dozen clubs represent the very heart of German football. They all are
reachable within 40 minutes from Bochum. The
atmosphere is “Champions
League”. I’ve never been
so happy! Not a fan? Then
try city trips (Münster,
Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf), clubbing (Dortmund,
Essen, Cologne) Karneval!!!
(Cologne,
Düsseldorf,
Bonn). Since you are a student you travel for free in
the province. Or just relax
at the lakes near university
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum at sunset/ Magdalena Dahla
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and later at night join the
“hopping dinner.”
It is never the cities that
make life enjoyable. Bochum might be grey, but I
for sure had a better time
than some folks doing
lonely selfies in one of the
world´s “in” cities. Our Bochum group was cool. Thus,
stop complaining and go to
Borussia Dortmund!
Dublin:
GRONINGEN:
B. DUBOIS
Not only does University College Dublin commemorate one of its most
famous alumnus and Irish
writers, James Joyce, with
a namesake library, but
Dublin is a city wrought of
poets, musicians, artists,
and of course, really good
beer and whisky. I attended UCD during the second
semester and met a mild
Irish February. However, I
spent half of the first week
in the bathroom drying my
clothes underneath the
hand-dryer.
After buying an extra pair
of rain trousers, the majority of new students grew
accustomed to the unpredictable weather and took
it in stride. My German flat
mates and I even biked daily, in the rain, 5 km to UCD
C. TRAVERS
from where we lived. You
can find second hand bikes
easily in Dublin, including at the UCD on-campus
bike shop.
Students from first-semester Dublin praised the
warmer and dryer days
they experienced between
September and January
and most of them had established lives beyond university when the rest of us
arrived for the second semester.
Students had managed to
get jobs waiting tables or
even working at the university gym. And, frankly,
in order to afford Dublin
living, a part-time job can
be really useful. If you’re
strapped for cash try the
many pubs that hire stu-
Moving to the flat, wet Netherlands. Groningen. A metropolitan student city with more pubs per head than any
other NOHA destination, and roughly 2 hours and €25
from anywhere. Living here you will be among thousands
of international students from across the world. Some key
points to know when you arrive in this canal-bound city:
Nowhere will accept VISA. It may be the most annoying
thing about living in the Netherlands but it will mean you
should frequent a cash point if you don’t have a Mastercard. When paying rent there can also be huge international transfer fees. Factor about 15-20% extra into your
budget or pay in bulk.
dents to work busy days
for them even if you have
no experience. You’ll find
at least three pubs in any
given neighbourhood, not
to mention the hundreds in
city centre near O’Connell
Street and in Temple Bar.
If you’re a first semester
student, it’s guaranteed
you will have a nightmare
trying to find housing anywhere in Dublin. If you’re
looking for something affordable, do not live on
campus. Despite campus
apartments being convenient when you can’t find
much else, they are much
more expensive and living at UCD puts you nowhere near city centre or
other city life. If you know
some of the other NOHA
students attending Dublin
The Trinity College library in Dublin boasts centuries old books collected by the university’s
many famous professors/ Anna Görs
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(make a Facebook group!)
you can also try to find
housing together. Many
students, including myself
and two others, found it
much easier to secure an
entire flat together than
looking for affordable single rooms alone. And, in the
end, it was much cheaper
as well.
Ultimately, once housing is
secured and rain trousers
bought (try Penney’s for a
really cheap pair!), Dublin
is a wonderful city to explore and sink into. You’ll
find artist studios just next
to some of the oldest pubs
in the city (Temple Bar), poets’ old stomping grounds
when you visit The Brazen
Head, Stag’s Head, or Mulligan’s pubs, wonderful live
music in each and every
venue, and history mixed
with art at museums such
as the Hugh Lane gallery
(also called Dublin City
Gallery), or the Chester
Beatty Library. And if you
really want the whole experience, don’t forget the
Guinness brewery and the
Old Jameson Distillery. For
something more low-key,
there is also the unique
Light House Cinema or St.
Stephen’s Green.
On the subject of rent, the Netherlands does not commonly rent rooms furnished, unless stated. The start of
term will be littered with students looking for large furniture they may not have expected to buy - beds, mattresses and stoves. Luckily IKEA is walking distance from
the centre of the city and several bike companies rent
bikes with large trailers on the front to help you move
your new found possessions around. You can also try a
number of second-hand stores around the city. A favourite is Mamamini’s near the Noordeplantsoen, or you can
try ‘Buy and Sell Things Groningen’ on Facebook.
Houseboats line the canal in Groningen, The Netherlands/
Delphine Tyč
Similar to Uppsala, Groningen is a city dominated by
bikes. There is likely one for every student in the city,
probably more. Most students buy these second hand,
but bear in mind that if you accidentally buy a stolen bike
it could be legally confiscated leaving you out of pocket.
There is a buy and sell group for bikes in Groningen on
Facebook, and plenty of bike shops in the city. An option
for second semester students is to buy it off a student
from the first semester. Unlike Uppsala, Dutch law does
not mandate a helmet; in fact they are a rare sight in Groningen. You will still need lights and locks, and a confidence to cycle close to moving cars. With a bike, travel
from the centre of town to Zernike campus is about 2030 minutes (or a 1 hour walk).
The Netherlands is really known for three things – canals,
tulips and cannabis. The latter of these is worth a note
for newly arriving international students. Firstly weed is
only legal inside The Netherlands, so do not attempt to
transport any over international borders.
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Louvain-la-Neuve:
UPPSALA:
A. VANTOURNHOUDT
C. TRAVERS
Moving to Belgium, at the Catholic university of Louvain-la-Neuve (LLN), is the best way to discover how the
university looks like in this small kingdom.
Louvain-la-Neuve is a student city where the French
university has been built. It is called Louvain-la-Neuve
(Louvain means Leuven in French and Neuve means
new) because it was separated from the catholic university of Leuven – where Flemish is the main language– at
the end of the 1960s.
It is 30 minutes away from Brussels by train. Thus you
could decide to live in the capital or in the student city
and discover how the Belgian students party.
Fall colours reflect on the water in Uppsala, Sweden/ Keith Mattingly
You can travel around Belgium for a very cheap price,
so you should take the opportunity to visit Antwerpen
(Anvers), Gent, Bruges, and other beautiful Belgium cities. Also, you will be able to reach Lille by train in just 30
minutes, Paris in one hour and a half, and Amsterdam as
well. Everything is just a short train ride away!
Moving to Uppsala at the beginning
of the winter. The first semester in
Uppsala will bring chilling winds,
snows and ice – all the things you
might expect of this small Swedish
town. Living in Sweden as an international student entitles you to free
Swedish lessons, a work permit and
a realm of travel opportunities – Finland, Latvia, Norway.
Belgium is a very welcoming country and its inhabitants are quite friendly. You will find a large international community in Brussels, as well as in Louvain. And of
course you will enjoy the endless choice of beers, the best
French-fries in the world and the waffles on every corner.
Trees bloom on campus in Louvain-la-Neuve/ Mariana Messner
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The system in Sweden is unique
among the NOHA universities. When
arriving, the first thing you will need
to do is decide which Nation you will
join. Think of these as a mix of Student Unions and Fraternities; each
nation has its own draws and its own
character and joining them will be a
way of meeting likeminded students
and engaging in social and extracurricular activities. For example, Nor-
rlands is by far the largest nation
and is known for the cheapest drinks
and the largest balls, whilst Kalmars
is known for alternative clubs, leftwing societies and vegan food. The
Nation Card will have to be displayed
at every nation to get entry along with
photo ID.
Another must when arriving in Uppsala is to find your local coffee shop
with Wi-Fi. The application for gaining access to the university system
is long and can only be completed
during the limited Swedish opening
hours. While you’re out hunting, try
the fika options as well. To fika means
to take a coffee, eat kannelbulle and
chat with a friend. As a Swedish student you’ll be doing an awful lot of
fika-ing, so you best find a place you
like. A common favourite in the cen-
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tre of town is Hugo’s off St Olofsgatan – allergy free food, long opening
hours and interesting décor.
A final tip for Nordic-bound NOHA
students is a note on alcohol. The
government has a monopoly on alcohol in Sweden, meaning that you can
only buy your supplies at a high price
and during the strict opening hours of
the Systembolaget. So locate the one
nearest to you when you arrive, and
work the prices into your budget.
USEFUL LINKS
AIX
Accommodation
Appartager
http://www.appartager.com
DUBLIN
Louvain-la-Neuve
Accommodation
Daft
www.daft.ie
Accommodation
Shared flats
https://www.facebook.com/
groups/513598715333991/?fref=ts
Erasmus: Rooms, flats, friends
Transportation in Aix
Transportation in Dublin
Public transportation
http://www.dublin.ie/transport/home.
htm
www.facebook.com/
groups/718216548228699/
Aix en bus
http://www.aixenbus.fr/aixenbus_en
From Aix to Marseilles
http://www.navetteaixmarseille.com/
spip.php?rubrique2
Bikes:
UCD
www.belfieldbikeshop.com
Bolton Cycles
www.boltoncycles.com
BILBAO
Accommodation
Everything else
Adverts
www.adverts.ie
Easy Piso
http://www.easypiso.com
alKila
http://www.alkila.net
Transportation in Bilbao
Groningen
Metro
http://www.metrobilbao.net
Accommodation
KamerNet
http://kamernet.nl
Tram
http://www.euskotren.es
Rooms in Groningen
https://www.facebook.com/
groups/121294141228020/?fref=ts
Social Life
Erasmus World Bilbao
https://www.facebook.com
ErasmusWorld?fref=ts
Transportation in Groningen
Train
http://www.ns.nl
Group train tickets
https://www.facebook.com/
groups/527367814022463/?fref=ts
BOCHUM
Accommodation
Private students subletting VRR
facebook.com/
groups/233909110047056/?fref=ts
Rooms, flats, everything else
http://www.wg-gesucht.de
Transportation
Ruhrgbiet
VRR
www.vrr.de/en/
Deutsche Bahn
www.bahn.de
in
Bochum
and
Blablacar
h t t p s : / / w w w. fa c e b o o k . c o m /
BlaBlaCar.nl?fref=ts
Everything else
For sale in Groningen
https://www.facebook.com/groups/
forsaleingroningenfast/?fref=ts
Student life
SIB Groningen
http://www.sib-groningen.nl
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Appartager
http://www.appartager.com
www.vlan.be
Brussels rooms
https://www.facebook.com/
groups/195527370457521/
Transportation in Louvain
Thalys
https://www.thalys.com/fr/fr/
SNBC
“http://www.belgianrail.be/jp/sncbnmbs-routeplanner/query/
STIB
http://www.stib-mivb.be/index.
htm?l=fr
uPPSALA
Accommodation
Student Union Website
http://www.uppsalastudentkar.se/
international-students
Transportation in Uppsala
Buses
http://www.uppsalastudentkar.se/
international-students/life-sweden/
orientation/buses
Guide to Uppsala
Nations Guide
https://upps al astudent.com/
nationsguiden
International Office
http://www.inter.uadm.uu.se/about_
us/
NOHA STUDENTS
REFLECT ON THEIR
MOTIVATION &
DRIVING FORCES
by K.Mattingly
The NOHA 2013-2014 class consists of students from
all over the world. Colombia, Hungary, the Philippines.
Students from various backgrounds to pursue the
same Master’s course.
“I don’t think anyone really knows why they are drawn
to the NOHA course,” is how first-year student Claire
Louise Travers dives into identifying the impetus
for pursuing the NOHA masters
programme. “I don’t have our answers.”
In some ways she represents a common
current trend: the desire to trade in the
comforts of a steady career path for
pursuits more meaningful, and more
congruent with one’s true personality.
Claire’s story is just one answer to the
question I pose: Who are the NOHA
students and what has propelled them
to pursue this course?
“If I only had one place, one currency and no suitcase, I
think I would hope for another opportunity to change
my life,” continues Claire. The challenges of constant
change, unfamiliar environments and the frustrations
and revelations that come thereby are commonplace
for people in this line of work and study, and through
the appreciation for the new, the uncertain and the
unpredictable we hope to reach beyond limitations,
enrich our own experience and realise
our goals externally and internally. At
a time when many of my own friends
are getting married, having kids and
settling down, many NOHA students
appear just at the point of taking off,
uprooting, and sacrificing stability,
security and certainty for the fruits of
far-reaching and important work and
life abroad.
People ask me
how I chose this
programme; I
stumble, I say
something
unconvincing,
and I am clearly
unable to mask my
own uncertainty.
I ask it because I don’t have answers
either. People ask me how I chose this
programme; I stumble, I say something
unconvincing, and I am clearly unable
to mask my own uncertainty. There are the tired
clichés: I want to make a difference; doing something
for the greater good; making the world a better place
and helping those in need. Valuing such aims is
fundamental to humanitarian action, but we all have
different ways of arriving to our decisions and desires.
Everyone has a story, and how their stories lead to this
field is a fascinating topic.
We constantly speak of “the field,” but
for some it is not a distant, dangerous or
exotic place to go but a place of origin.
Didi Demani describes that “growing up
in Nigeria you see a lot of suffering and
you really can’t do anything about it. I always felt the
urge to help and this was the primary motivation to
go into humanitarian action.”
Peter Stensson’s NOHA studies complement his life
as a dreamer. “My humanitarian imperative came at
the age of 22, the first time I visited Kenya. When I
left the airport cruising towards downtown Nairobi,
c´ nect_17
I felt like I was home, the very first time in my whole
life. People felt so charismatic, positive and friendly.
The atmosphere was inviting, colourful and lively.
But within time, I came to experience the negative
side. The financial problems, the ethnic politics,
and discrimination. I met people who were very
vulnerable and did not have all their basic needs
provided for. Needs that ought to be taken for granted,
to live a life of self respect and dignity.”
to know my peers with similar priorities
and compassion inspired me to seek out an
environment in which I’d be working with similar
people to help catalyse my own motivation.
Although I happened upon NOHA on my own
and instantly knew it was something I wanted
to pursue, even as an adult it has often been my
parents, friends and even random acquaintances
But Peter’s path also represents an important and finding and suggesting steps for my path. Carin
overshadowed part of humanitarian action -- the Atterby says it was her mum (as usual) who
people who grow up in developed or wealthy countries found the Master’s through an online search, and
and also witness profound needs, crises and suffering “when she forwarded the link to me and I saw it
at home. Rewind to five years before going to Kenya, I too knew that this is a Master’s that I would like
when Peter found injustice and inspiration in his own to do. For me the Master’s represented what I
backyard upon changing high schools. “This was
wanted to do: something that is meaningful for
still Stockholm, but another area, with other social
me and which involves people from all over the
dimensions. Over the period of basically one summer,
I went from villas to concrete housing blocks, from world.”
gardens to street corners, from driving licenses to bus
cards,” he says. “Some of my new friends did not take
[having] an own bedroom or weekly pocket money
for granted. Rather, I experienced lack of living space,
discrimination and violence.
In addition to the people we want
to help, we are often equally
important to each other.
But even now I refuse to give up the thought of a better world, a brighter
future and equal rights. Any single person cannot bring us there, but any
single person can take us in the right direction.
current-day Croatia and worked on one of the
first peacebuilding projects. After a tough period
of work in Angola and a stint away from the
humanitarian world working in architecture, it
was a twenty-year reunion in Croatia that kickstarted Kerrin’s decision to return full-time. “The
benefits of our work were apparent in the words
and lives of the communities we tried to help.
This was vindication that the choices we made
were not unrealistic and idealistic. They were the
right choices.”
believes in them and works towards their
fulfillment they are valid and powerful. Our
personal driving forces stay with us, and we know
that success lies in maintaining our principles
and ideals of humanity while understanding our
individual limitations. “As with everything else,”
Peter concludes, “one does mature and I realised
where I had been too radical and what was really
humane, realistic and optimal. But even now I
refuse to give up the thought of a better world,
a brighter future and equal rights. Any single
person cannot bring us there, but any single
Everyone has seen human suffering and need, person can take us in the right direction.”
and our interpretations and reactions are both
unique and common in driving us to work
together. Humanitarian action is a subject full
of idealism and clichés, but when one sincerely
“My tipping point came when a friend of mine became
a victim of a xenophobic attack and nobody around
seemed to care. That was when I decided that enough
was enough, and that I couldn’t focus the rest of my life
on mere narrow self-interest. I don’t think I ever was
interested in making money or having a ‘successful
career,’ but if I ever had something like that in me, it
really disappeared for good during this time.”
Antónia Mota is hoping to elevate part-time
volunteer community work to a professional
career in humanitarian action. “There was no
particular person or event motivating me,” she
explains, and “somehow the circumstances of
life conducted me to study and work in other
fields than this one.” Having been “fascinated
In addition to the people we want to help, we are with the commercials on humanitarian aid”
often equally important to each other. As Didi since childhood, she spontaneously took this
describes, “being around people that have the opportunity when it arose despite the difficulties
same desire to help humanity is so uplifting,” of leaving her family and her country.
which echoes my own thoughts. I trace my
own motivation to volunteer work for a major Kerrin Buck’s experience in the humanitarian
international humanitarian organisation in field goes back a generation to the Yugoslav
Spain, where simply working with and getting Wars, in which he provided relief to refugees in
18_c´ nect
c´ nect_19
NOHAS IN
THE
PHILIPPINES
by B. duBois
The Philippines has
a long experience
of natural disasters,
but none quite as
devastating
as
Typhoon
Haiyan
in November 2013.
Despite preparedness
measures
and
evacuations
of
civilians,
the
impact of Haiyan
in the Philippines,
especially in the
Vasayas
regions,
was immense. The
coming hours, days,
weeks, and months,
would see hundreds
of
humanitarian
organisations
responding to the
situation.
According
to
a
report
by
the
National
Disaster
Risk Reduction and
Management Council
(NDRRMC) in the
Philippines, Typhoon
Haiyan left over 6
300 people dead and
28 000 injured, 1 000
missing, 4 million
displaced, and 16
million total affected.
The
unimaginable
damage may have
been exceptional to
most other natural
disasters, but it was
also intense training
ground for some
recently graduated
NOHA students in
the field.
©EC/ECHO/Arlynn Aquino
Vanvisa Warachit,
a 2012 graduate who
attended
Uppsala
and
Bochum,
respectively, arrived
in Guiuan, in Eastern
Samar, where Haiyan
made its first landfall
in the country in the
immediate aftermath
of the disaster.
“The fastest way to
access Guiuan town
©EC/ECHO/Mathias Eick
20_c´ nect
c´ nect_21
is by helicopter. The
town was severely
devastated by the
typhoon,
which
could be seen from
the
helicopter
above,” Vanvisa says.
Vanvisa is working as
a non-medical staff
with Medicins Sans
Frontieres
(MSF).
The MSF response to
Haiyan was Vanvisa’s
first mission with
the
organisation.
“MSF has a high
working
standard
and they are really
good at emergency
response,”
she
explains.
“I
was
afraid that my work
performance could
not live up to their
expectations. I also
worried a bit about
the living conditions
because they asked
me to prepare a
sleeping pad and
sleeping bag, as we
would sleep in tents.
They also told me that
the electricity came
from the generators
and running water
was provided by MSF.
I was also advised
not to bring any
electric devices, as
they couldn’t survive
the conditions. On
top of that, there
was
no
Internet
signal. I have never
been living in these
kinds of conditions
before.
It
would
be a real serious
situation, I thought.”
But Vanvisa was
not alone, and she
certainly wasn’t the
only NOHA in the
region. In March 2014
Anouk Boschma, a
2011 graduate who
attended Groningen
and
Bochum,
respectively, joined
the
International
Medical Corps (IMC)
in the Philippines.
However, this was
not Anouk’s first
field
experience.
“Before
the
Philippines I worked
in Haiti as well,”
Anouk says. “There
are a lot of similarities
with Haiti but also a
lot of dissimilarities.
Straight before this
I came from South
Sudan and that was
like a 360-degree
[sic] difference with
the
Philippines.
So it was actually
a bit of a culture
shock
arriving
here and realizing
people had a lot
more capacity than
what I was used to.”
Though Vanvisa and
Anouk both work
for
organisations
focused on medical
needs, Anouk says
IMC focuses its work
mostly on transitional
strategies and local
capacity
building.
“We work quite a bit
with national staff,
with
government
staff,”
Anouk
explains. “We do a lot
of capacity building,
a lot of training:
technical
training,
medical
training,
mental
health
training. For instance,
now here it’s quite
broad what we do.”
Anouk credits the
multidisciplinary
approach
NOHA
takes as a beneficial
component of the
kind of work she
does now. However,
she points out that
while extensive and
in-depth
ethical
discussions NOHA
students often have
can sometimes get
lost in the real world of
humanitarian action.
“It’s not to say you
shouldn’t
focus
on human rights,
obviously, or the
Code of Conduct, or
major standards, but
sometimes it goes a
22_c´nect
bit far in what [new
students] expect you
to do when doing
humanitarian action,
because you are
always under a lot
of time pressure. I
think there’s a lot of
skills that you need
to gain on the job
still, which is logical.”
Vanvisa’s experience
with MSF was a
learning
curve
for her as well.
While she says her
NOHA
experience
often focused on
management skills,
such as LogFrames
and E-single forms,
she also valued the
general knowledge
on
humanitarian
principles, standards,
actors and the system
which helps students
understand
crisis
situations
quicker
and more deeply.
“Even
though
I
was
a
first-time
field worker in the
Philippines,
there
is no need to ask a
simple question like
how a Logistic Cluster
works, who the ICRC
is, and how they are
different from other
NGOs or OCHA,” she
says. “[Students] will
ask more delicate
questions like: Can
we improve this
programme
by
implementing
this
strategy?
If
not,
why? Or, what is the
mortality/morbidity
rate at the moment?
Does it reflect the
on-going situation?
You will be in these
situations all the time
and that makes the
job more interesting.”
Practical
skills
Vanvisa
also
learned
included
the importance of
carrying
drinking
water when leaving
the field offices,
or how to pack
emergency
bags.
Vanvisa details one
experience she had in
the early days of the
Haiyan response.
“It
was
raining
heavily and there
was not any available
boat to bring us
back to our base
when we distributed
rehabilitation
materials
to
beneficiaries in a
small island outside
Guiuan. We then
couldn’t go back to
have lunch. I always
have some light
snacks that give
us energy in my
emergency bag.” The
packed food ensured
staff members were
able to continue their
activities smoothly.
But Vanvisa also
credits the MSF team
surrounding her in
the Philippines as
a driving force for
her good experience
working there.
“I was well accepted
and my colleagues
were so professional
to be patient and give
me helpful hands
for a first-time field
worker like me,” she
says. “The first week I
was there we worked
like 12 hours per day,
7 days per week. All
the fear, the difficult
living
conditions,
and
tiredness
were
completely
compensated
by
having a really good
team.”
One
thing
both
Vanvisa and Anouk
experienced
for
the first time in the
Philippines
was
the strong positive
and vocal response
from
the
local
communities.
“In the car from
airport to the field
project there was a
sign handwritten on
a broken piece of
wood,” Vanvisa says.
The sign read, ‘To all
international donors,
thank you so much
for helping us.’
“Everywhere there’s
signs thanking the
NGOs
for
their
commitments, which
is really unique,”
Anouk says. “I’ve
never
seen
that
before. It’s a really
positive environment
to work with.”
Humanitarian action
is not a field of work
where aid workers
can predict or expect
any given situation.
However, it is likely to
expect other NOHA
students also working
in almost any crisis
situation
“We look after each
other both personally
and professionally,”
Vanvisa says. “When
you are in the middle
of nowhere and you
think no one else
in the world will
understand
you,
there will always
be one or two of
your
NOHAs
to
understand it.”
c´ nect_23
<
“Everywhere there’s signs
thanking the NGOs for their
commitments, which is really
unique,” Anouk says. “I’ve
never seen that before. It’s a
really positive environment
to work with.”
GEORGIA
by S. Cook
UN photo
24_minimal
minimal_25
Second semester in Groningen, in The Netherlands, includes a field trip to Georgia (the country,
not the US state). The 10-day excursion to this amazing country, involves meeting with various
humanitarian organisations, most of whom are working to improve the internally displaced
persons (IDP) situation in Georgia.
First, a brief summary about the Georgia conflict:
Georgia formed in 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart. However, Russia remained high influential
in the Caucasus region, as the sole energy supplier; and recognized the breakaway regions of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. In 1992 Russia supported the Abkhaz people in
a rebellion against Georgia and the deportation of Georgian citizens to Georgia-proper.
To this day, Russia remains the sole benefactor to the Abkhaz economy and the key military and
political supporter of the de facto Abkhazian authority.
In 2008, Georgia-Russia relations strained further when Russia moved troops into South Ossetia
and Abkazia in what seemed to be an act of war. Georgian forces rushed to defend their borders
and a conflict broke out, which Georgia eventually lost. Russian forces closed the South Ossetian
borders, and remain there with significant military strength. The total cost of these conflicts cannot
be measured, but resulted in 160 000 IDPs from South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Sidha Kartli, tens
of thousands of which have been forced to seek shelter with host families or at temporary camps
throughout Georgia. This significant IDP population remains a serious socio-economic challenge
for Georgia.
When we arrived in Tbilisi, we traveled to our accommodation. It was a large house with several
rooms containing beds, a kitchen, and one bathroom inside and one outside. Overall, it seemed
rather luxurious. The only catch was sharing and scheduling bathroom times between 23 people
for 10 days.
Over those 10 days we visited 14 organisations, which covered a range of issues that include
but are not limited to: Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), shelter and housing, legal representation,
psychosocial care, food security and livelihoods, and the excavation of human remains. Some of
the most memorable include the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), Action Against
Hunger (ACF), Studio Re, the ICRC, and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).
CENN is an environmental organisation that strives to promote sustainable development practice
to improve people’s lives. Their large multi-stakeholder network has been effective in implementing
a wide range of programmes, including investigating the role of women in sustainable resource
management. CENN regularly reports on DRR and has also produced an atlas outlining natural
hazards, risks and socioeconomic vulnerability in Georgia. At the end of the visit, they presented
each of us with The Green Bag – a reusable canvas bag to support their pilot project “Discover
Alternatives! Say NO to Plastic Bags!” The campaign is the first of its kind to be carried out in
Georgia.
Action Against Hunger (ACF) is an international NGO and has been present in Georgia since 1995.
Of the 160 000 displaced from the conflict, ACF provided food and hygiene kits to more than
2000 families, and rehabilitated sanitation facilities in several of the temporary shelters. Currently,
ACF’s aid is bridging the gap to development, and includes water and sanitation (WASH), and
sustainable livelihoods and DRR projects, with explicit aims to promote the role of women.
Through their projects, ACF has improved WASH and nutrition in schools, delivered drinking water
infrastructure to remote mountain areas, and trained project staff in gender-based programming.
After the presentation, we visited one of the IDP settlements and saw the living conditions and the
limited livelihood activities available on site.
Association Studio Re is a media-outlet NGO, founded in 1992, and aims to strengthen public
26_c´ nect
debates and contribute towards civil society formation in Georgia. The association has produced
short films and TV programmes raising topical issues such as corruption, civil diplomacy and the
IDP situation in Georgia.
Towards the end of the week, we visited the ICRC who gave an incredibly interesting presentation
on the excavation of human remains and family repatriation. This isn’t a topic frequently raised
when discussing humanitarian action, however the ICRC’s Missing Persons Unit works alongside
the authorities to determine the fate of missing persons and collaborates with local NGOs to
support their families. Through applying osteological techniques the ICRC Forensic Unit was
able to identify individuals who went missing after the helicopter crash that hastened the 2008
conflict, and return the remains to their families for proper burial. During this visit, we also learned
that the ICRC is the only organisation providing humanitarian assistance in South Ossetia. Other
organisations remarked that entry to South Ossetia was not possible for political reasons; however
the ICRC has been entering through the Russian border instead of through Georgia. This definitely
sparked political discussions with the NGOs we visited afterwards.
The final NGO we visited was the DRC, who aims to provide sustainable solutions in displacement
issues. The DRC spoke about the 2008 displacement issue in Georgia, and one of their current
projects, which includes rebuilding and rehabilitating housing and livelihoods in Ergneti Village.
In the afternoon, we were taken to the village itself and saw the rehabilitated houses with red roofs,
and other houses built from scratch. We also met with locals enrolled in their livelihoods scheme;
there was a woman who ran a rose farm (and gave us apples), and a couple who owned numerous
beehives and had a prospering honey business. During the excursion we visited the Administrative
Border Line (ABL) between South Ossetia and Russia and could see the Russian flag waving lazily
on the other side.
Overall, the field trip had many highlights. Each organisation we visited was unique and the
opportunity to meet IDPs was a much-needed insight. Throughout the trip, Georgian hospitality and
generosity was flawless. We were welcomed into an owner’s home, who baked us a cake (because it
was her birthday), and the minibus drivers were friendly and willing to teach us Georgian/Russian
in exchange for English. The food was incredible (though it may not accommodate all dietary
needs), and a few must-tries are Georgian wine, dumplings, and chakapuli.
Recommendations
_The public bathhouses are a must. This is a great way to end the
trip by losing all inhibitions and letting go of stresses.
_Uplistsikhe is a cave city that used to inhabit approximately 20,000
people and has a beautiful view of the rural Georgian countryside.
_Kazbegi is a village located in northern Georgia and is a popular
site for trekking, views of Mount Kazberg (the highest in the Caucus
range), and visiting the Holy Trinity Church.
Learning experiences
_Take on board cultural sensitivity, personal adaptation to
temporary environment, and remember your earplugs!
c´ nect_27
Russo-Georgian Friendship Monument in the Georgian Military Highway/Sian Cook
View over the Georgian capital Tbilisi from Narikala/ Sian Cook
IDP camp settlement in East Georgia/ Sian Cook
Ananuri Monastery on the Aragvi Rive / Sian Cook
28_c´ nect
c´ nect_29
MY
EXPERIENCE
AT
ECHO
by L. Eriksson
Lina spent her first semester at
Uppsala and second in Bochum. She is
a NOHA intern at ECHO in the Specific
Thematic Policies unit
Kristian Rocafort
From left: Ian Rocafort, Tatiana Charpenter, Brook duBois, Lina Eriksson, Simon Stermann,
Delphine Tyč, and Solvetta Bruzaite
If somebody had
asked me exactly a
year ago if I could
see myself doing my
NOHA
internship
at the European
Co m m i s s i o n’s
Humanitarian
Aid
and Civil Protection
department (ECHO),
I would have replied,
“over my dead body.”
Having worked for
the past three years
in development work
in a rural community
in Swaziland and
lived in Africa for the
past four years, the
thought of living in a
relatively large, grey
European
capital,
spending my working
days in an office,
working for a donor
and sitting in front
of a computer, was
completely out of
the question for me.
The only thought I
had was, “I need to
get back to the field;
I don’t want to be in
Europe.”
Every year ECHO
reserves traineeships
during the summer
and fall for NOHA
students from each
partner
university
(one student per
university is typically
chosen). When the
time came to apply
for an ECHO position
I reluctantly did so
but didn’t think too
much about it. In fact
I thought, “Well I can
always say no, but it’s
better to apply and
be in a position to say
‘no’ than not having
applied at all.”
My top three choices
were for the desk
officer positions in
the operational unit. I
was offered a position
in the strategy and
thematic
policies
unit. I was not very
pleased.
c´ nect_31
As I’m writing this,
more than half of my
internship duration
time at ECHO has
passed and I don’t
want it to end.
Already after the first
week I knew that my
time at the concrete
jungle building that is
ECHO was going to be
a positive 3 months,
even though I was
sitting in an office in
Brussels, staring at
a computer screen,
working on policy
documents, and not
in the field in some
far flung exciting
location of the world.
Throughout my time
here, I have been
tasked to work on the
European
Union’s
resilience
agenda.
I am in charge
of
coordinating
a
Resilience
Comp endium
(due to come out
in
September),
highlighting
the
best
practices
and examples of
resilience that ECHO
is funding through
partner organisations
all over the world.
At first, the task
seemed
daunting,
I knew little more
than the definition of
resilience. It seemed
even more daunting
when I understood
that I had to contact
and correspond with
technical assistants,
field experts, member
states and partner
organisations,
guiding
them
and editing their
professional
work
to highlight and
strengthen
their
numerous resilience
initiatives
and
approaches.
The days are long,
there is an endless
amount of work to do
and we are not paid a
single cent. However,
a past NOHA student
working in my unit
advised me to always
say ‘Yes’ whenever
somebody asked me
to do anything.
ultimately it
is up to you to
make the best
of your time
and learning
experiences
The
amount
of
responsibility
that
has been entrusted
in me and other
NOHA interns from
our head of units,
supervisors,
and
ECHO colleagues has
been exceptionally
encouraging
and
inspiring. From the
very beginning I
felt respected and
valued as a colleague
and not as an intern.
This has been very
important for me,
as I feel part of a
professional working
environment and a
c´ nect_32
stimulating
team,
contributing to a
greater good. This
responsibility
and
respect has been
especially important
when working 8-11
hours a day; not being
able to open any
windows for fresh
air; a closed cafeteria
for summer holidays;
seeing more than
half of the offices on
every floor empty
due
to
summer
vacation; and more
often than I would
like, staring out of my
closed window into
the pouring rain.
Nonetheless,
the
incredible learning
curve that is the
everyday
life
of
ECHO
makes
it
all worth it. Aside
from the daily tasks
and struggles, all
interns (NOHA and
more typical Blue
Book trainees) have
the opportunity to
participate in internal
trainings, organized
by ECHO and outside
experts, which add
and
contribute
to
personal
and
professional
development.
However, ultimately it is
up to you to make the best
of your time and learning
experiences. In the midst
of a crisis it is easy for
people to get swallowed
into their own bubble, so
taking the initiative to be
approachable,
available,
enthusiastic and open for
new ideas is vital even if it
means doing a temporarily
menial task.
Ultimately, ECHO is a
humanitarian
donor
representing the interests
of European member states.
It is not a purist Dunantist
humanitarian organisation
and it is not field-work.
But the three months at
ECHO provide very good
preparation for entering the
humanitarian NGO world
and an exceptionally good
networking opportunity.
Outside of working hours,
the five other NOHA
interns that I arrived with
have been a tremendous
help for settling in, both at
ECHO and in Brussels. It
is comforting to know we
can share and talk about
our
daily
experiences,
frustrations and stresses
of the internship. I also
discovered that a large
majority of young people
working at ECHO are
previous NOHA students;
many are students who also
did their internship at ECHO
and have then been offered
extensions or have been
seconded to assist wherever
help is needed. The support
network of both current
and past NOHA students
has really given me a new
understanding and meaning
of what it means to be part
of the NOHA ‘family’.
As my internship is coming
to an end and I’m starting
to look at employment
opportunities, I realize
most organisations look
for candidates with donor
experience,
especially
within ECHO. This will
inevitably give you an
advantage over others.
Having said all of this,
ECHO is not for everybody.
It depends on your interests
and passion and, more
importantly, where you
are in your professional
humanitarian career. As for
me, it was the best choice
I could have made at this
time. It doesn’t however
prevent me from wanting to
return to the field, but will
give me new perspective
once I do.
c´ nect_33
TRENDS AND THE
FUTURE WITH
ROY
WILLIAMS
Interviewed by C. Travers
Roy Williams is well-known and well respected
in the humanitarian aid sector. When we meet
at the offices in Columbia University, he looks
dignified in his well-seasoned years. He is early,
having caught a different bus. He still catches the
bus; the same as when he was living in Harlem,
NY. He walks slowly and deliberately and talks
with a patient and solemn voice. His Harlem
accent is just a shadow.
Williams has worked in Africa during droughts,
in South East Asia resettling refugees, in
Rwanda during the genocide, Bosnia during the
war, Kosovo, Iraqi-Kurdistan… the impressive
list of places goes on and on. After working
with international organisations and nongovernmental organisations, he was invited by
the Clinton administration to head the Office
of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Bureau for
Humanitarian Response (BHR/OFDA) of the US
Agency for International Development (USAID).
34_c´ nect
You have worked for a number of well-known know that your resources are
organisations. What are the differences between limited, your reach is limited.
So everything that you figure
working for an NGO and USAID?
This I find to be an interesting question,
because in a lot of ways the motivation of
the individuals overlapped, but the ethos of
the NGO is very different from the ethos of a
governmental organisation. I worked for the
International Rescue Committee (IRC), which
is a rather unique organisation in that it was
initially founded in World War II to provide
escape routes for Jews and gypsies, musicians
and intellectuals, as the rise of power in
Germany began to see Hitler ascending.
So the central ethos was basically one of
freedom, and the motivation for individuals
was in the belief in the right to be free. So
during the war they ran escape routes out
of Germany, through France and so on. And
interestingly, when I was working and war
broke out I got a call from New York saying
we need to set up escape routes for Kurdish
refugees into Turkey. And I couldn’t figure
out why – why were we going to work with
Kurdish refugees in Turkey? Turned out that
during World War II the Kurdish population
provided one of the escape routes out of
Germany, and their descendants felt that we
owed them a debt. So the reason I make this
point is that this is the ethos of an NGO that no
government can share – the motivation has to
do with the supporters, the constituency. And
from the point of view of the staff, this makes
all the difference. I mean, in government I
worked with some excellent people – really
excellent, resourceful, and talented – but in
the NGO world there is an added dimension
of motivations that governments cannot
provide. And it’s to do with the history, and
personalities, and the leadership. We had
some amazing people leading us, who had
lived through that, had survived; and for
myself and the younger staff underneath me,
those people were the inspiration.
What about the differences in resource allocation
and decision making?
When you are running an NGO operation you
“We had some amazing
people leading us, who
had lived through that,
had survived; and for
myself and the younger
staff underneath me,
those people were the
inspiration.”
into your calculation is a
function of the recognition
of that limitation. And above
all things, you want to avoid
raising expectations beyond your capacities.
The more experienced NGOs recognise that
right away. Another thing you learn from
quickly in the NGO world, which is less
relevant in the government world, is that
people see you very differently from how
you see yourself. You come with a couple of
blessings. One is that people see you as having
resources. Two is that they assume you can
always get out, which they can’t, and a further
assumption is that you can communicate
with the outside world. This all means power.
The best decision makers I’ve worked with
are aware of these dimensions. The rest are
technicians. They get a job done, sometimes
that’s enough, but often that’s not. And often
the area which is left lacking is the motivation
of the people who work for you. In Bosnia,
after so many years of war, we began to see
there were no ‘good guys’ in a fundamental
sense, and motivating staff became a huge
problem. Because why were we there, what
the hell were we doing, why were we risking
our lives? So that becomes a problem.
An emerging trend in humanitarianism for our
generation is ‘gender’ - gender mainstreaming,
gender issues, women’s empowerment.
Well, the thing about gender, I find, is
very often that the way the term is used
is monolithic. Like the way that gender is
understood is the same everywhere. But it’s
not, every situation is so specific, based upon
the assumptions society makes. I remember
when we were in the Sudan we were using
‘food for work’ programmes, and at one point
all of the men went out on strike and we
couldn’t figure out why. For two weeks we kept
talking to the maleeaders, until one day one of
them took me aside and said “we didn’t decide
to strike, the women told us to”. We had no
c´ nect_35
clue that this particular relationship in that society in this
particular part of Sudan even existed. If we had known
that in the first instance we would have set up the whole
relationship with the men differently.
Another experience was in Sudan, where we were using
air drops of food distribution. And for some reason the
metrics of morbidity/mortality and what we thought was
happening with the food never seemed to match. No
matter how much food the WFP [World Food Programme]
dropped, they didn’t get any better. What we didn’t’ know
was that the women were making the decision to give the
food to the young men going off to fight. So they were
carrying away food we assumed was being consumed by
the women and children. They had made the decision to
give the food to the male relatives who were going off to
fight and die against the Sudanese government.
Even for men. In every society the predicates for gender
are going to be different. I mean, I grew up in Harlem. And
when I grew up in Harlem, the whole neighbourhood was
run by gangs. So you had a choice: you either joined the
gangs, didn’t join the gangs, or became a super-athlete
and that made you immune to the gangs. Because they
respected that and they left you alone. So in every society
it’s different. In terms of analysis, I suspect that gender
programmes in each situation need an understanding of
what the society assumes are the rules of engagement,
before you can even begin to address the issue. So the
question has to be: What assumptions does this society
make about the role of men and women? And how can we
determine their capacities?
What do you think about gender aspects of programming for
improving gender equality and women’s empowerment? Should
we, and can we address women’s empowerment in humanitarian
programming?
Gender is a social construct, and it serves a purpose;
power dynamics and social stability. So in different social
structures equality will mean different things and be
towards different purposes. Unfortunately societies were
the genders are equal in every respect do not survive. It’s
not the way they’re structured. As population grows, and
increase in demographics, this becomes more and more
apparent - that roles have to be diversified, otherwise
there just isn’t enough to go around. So what do we mean
by equality, and how useful is it in the abstract sense? How
do people see the word ‘equality’ and is it even functional
or relevant? If you look at the way most Western societies’
are structured, as an example, the indicators when roles
begin to change are really interesting. How personalities
and society changes as the gender roles change. How does
gender enable sustainability in a community, depending
on the roles in that community? Do you really want it,
or are male roles important in this or that society? Some
of the best field people I have worked with are women
because they are sensitive to what the people in the other
community are saying. But the most effective operating
people tend to be men, from my experience, because
most men feel comfortable just doing something, not
thinking. Thinking takes us out of our comfort zone, it’s
dangerous. We are trained not to have certain attributes,
because they don’t make sense societally. Equality doesn’t
mean squat frankly, it’s just a matter of being recognised.
Growing up a Black American, I was active in the civil
rights movement, and I think we made a big mistake. We
assumed that equality before the law was the objective,
but what we really wanted was just to be seen, just to be
recognised, that would have been cool.
Another recent change to our field is Security Council
Resolution 2165, authorising the delivery of aid across conflict
lines. In a sense this is the next step in realising, legally, the
Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
Yes, this is a blurring of the lines that I never thought
would be possible. If you put it in a context of what
humanitarianism has traditionally meant, and the
limitations it traditionally has on it, what we are seeing is
in Syria is, to use that phrase, “blurring of the lines”. For
example in Homs, some of the humanitarian assistance
also included evacuating civilians carrying weapons.
Now that was always a ‘no, no’, because we found out in
Somalia that if you try that, you become a target. And in
terms of protocols, you’re just not supposed to deal with
armed civilians; that’s the ICRC’s stand on that. I mean,
the whole dimension is changing.
A part of this changing dimension is the trend toward the
commercialisation and militarisation of aid. What about working
with companies, like Coke or Nestlé, that have principles that
might contradict with the humanitarian imperative?
Why wouldn’t you? Unless you assume they are
the villain by nature, which is simplistic and totally
unrealistic. Corporations are more and more realising the
reasons to get involved with humanitarian undertakings
36_c´ nect
which go beyond their bottom line. I mean even
Coca Cola has instincts apart from making money
– self-interest, public image, establishment in the
community. They don’t have principles, they have
behavioural objectives. These might not be elevated
to the level of principle, but that does not mean
they can’t at the same time use their resources in
a principled way. For a long time the military were
thought of as being incapable of being involved
with humanitarian assistance. That has changed.
The argument was that if you wore a uniform that
you were inevitably dedicated to killing people,
I think all we are doing is taking care of each other,
and somehow using the word ‘humanitarianism’
makes it sound like we’re doing something noble.
We’re not. I’ve never thought of myself as doing
something noble. The word ‘humanitarianism’
gets enshrined and in the public mind we need
to have a humanitarian intervention in Homs
or Gaza or wherever. It transcends that, it really
does. I hope the World Summit acknowledges this
reality in some ways, and think about our society
as much more integrated than we are used to
thinking. It needs to invite or create some sort of
“I think all we are doing is taking care of each other, and somehow using the word
‘humanitarianism’ makes it sound like we’re doing something noble. We’re not.”
which is pure bullshit. That isn’t the way it is. I have
been in so many situations when the military were
dying for the chance to help somebody because they
knew they could do something no one else could do.
They had the helicopters, the trucks, the expertise,
the WASH equipment - in Rwanda for example.
The military has been further ahead of that than
most people realise. For example, in the US military
there are now doctrines that says the priority should
be working with civilians over accomplishing a
military objective. This is at the highest levels. They
have created all kinds of training institutes trying
to create a breed of officers that think in terms of
civilians in addition to being leaders. And this is all
happening in the last five to six years. After Iraq and
Afghanistan they realise, we’re not fighting China
or Russia with 3 000 tanks shooting at each other,
we’re fighting small groups of people who think
differently from us. So you might not even have to
fight if you talk to them.
How do you see the future of humanitarianism in light of
the World Summit?
I would hope that the World Summit can tackle
the questions of what ‘humanitarianism’ is in the
first place. I hope it will recognise that society has
become so integrated in a holistic manner, that
the subdivisions in the community – academic,
military, humanitarian – are really working against
sustainability. So the World Summit, I hope, will
dispense with the word ‘humanitarianism’, because
fusion mechanism whereby all the people that are
involved in sustainability of society can meet and
talk to each other on a routine basis. Maybe this can
resolve the problems coming from, for example, the
increasing scale of natural disasters.
Natural Disasters?
Well, by 2050 70 per cent of the population is going
to be living in cities. Cities are incredibly vulnerable. I
grew up in a city, in New York, and it was unthinkable
that something should happen. That water would
flood 34th subway was incomprehensible. I was
at a conference in Washington and they were
talking about evacuation plans for New York, and
I remember thinking “Aha, you’re gonna convince
those people sitting up in Spanish Harlem and the
Bronx to New Jersey? To Long Island? No way.”
And then you see in Katrina. The evacuation plan
failed because of two things. One, some of the local
counties didn’t want people from the other county
crossing the bridge. And two, people in that part of
New Orleans lived month to month. They didn’t
have money to evacuate because they couldn’t even
afford the bus fare. And then pay day was two days
after the evacuation was called for – they didn’t
have the money to evacuate. And the state didn’t
have the resources. It’s that kind of thing that makes
cities so vulnerable in ways we can’t understand. I
mean how many exits are there from New York,
seven? And the population is 10 million? Forget it,
it’s not going to happen.
c´ nect_37
Soldiers
are not
social
workers
with guns
Essay by K. Rasool
38_minimal
Editor’s Note: With increasing focus on furthering closer ties between civil and military
groups, aid organisations are increasingly faced with a dilemma they have historically
tried to avoid. Perception can be everything in the humanitarian sector, including
determining staff security when working in conflict zones. It’s pertinent to understand the
nuances and principles behind the various views on civil-military relations in order for us
as humanitarians to move forward and strengthen the work we do around the world.
“Soldiers are not social workers with guns. Both disciplines are important, but
both will suffer if combined in the same individuals”
Major General Lewis Mackenzie, Canadian forces
Since the end of
the
Cold
War,
humanitarians have
increasingly become
targets for terrorist
groups around the
world. In Afghanistan
alone, attacks on aid
workers
increased
by 1 300 per cent
between 1990 and
2005. While the
numbers
keep
rising,
according
to the Aid Workers
Security
research
organisation, many
academies are trying
to give an answer to
the reasons behind
these attacks.
According to some
academics, more and
more people make the
wrong assumption
by concluding that
‘humanitarian
space’, the operating
environment
organisations work
within, has become
a dangerous place
for aid workers. They
rather assume the
reasons behind the
increase in lethal
attacks is actually
due to humanitarian
organisations
changing
their
aid strategies and
adapting new ones
by
implementing
‘humanitarian
space’ into hot spots
or conflict zones.
Iraq,
Syria,
and
Afghanistan are just
a few examples.
Between 2006 and
2008 in Afghanistan,
Medecins
Sans
Frontieres
(MSF)
and the ICRC were
operating in conflict
zones while both
organisations
refused to endanger
the
humanitarian
principles
of
humanity, neutrality,
impartiality
and
independence
by
operating under the
protection of armed
guards. If indeed
humanitarian space
has become much
more hostile due to
more conflicts in
which humanitarians
work taking place
within
national
boundaries,
and
between
domestic
groups,
instead
of
international
conflicts,
then
organisations such
as MSF or the
ICRC will struggle
to hold on to their
norms, values, and
principles
without
incorporating armed
guards into the zones
they are operating.
Internal
conflicts
are often even more
dangerous due to
the manner in which
domestic
armed
groups fight or carry
out attacks, whether
in urban areas, or
outside the scope
of the international
community.
In a 2003 interview
with the Associated
Press,
the
US
Commander
in
Afghanistan at the
time, Lt. Gen. David
Barno,
suggested
it was time for aid
agencies to accept
and
understand
neutrality in such
hostile and volatile
situations is no longer
c´ nect_39
possible.
While
organisations
like
MSF and the ICRC
argue that military
involvement is only
causing harm to
humanitarian space,
there are several
indications that the
implementation of
the military has had
positive
impacts
when it comes to aid
assistance.
Afghanistan
has
become
one
of
the most hostile
countries
for
humanitarians
to
operate in next to
Syria. This was one
of the main reasons
MSF
immediately
stopped
all
its
missions
in
the
country after the
deaths of five of its
foreign staff in 2005.
The images of the
MSF headquarters
in Kandahar that
circulate on the web,
with its high walls
and sand bags, are
likely to be confused
by an outsider with
a military base. In
order for the medical
staff to move from
the base to the
hospital at the end
of the road, security
measures had to be
put in place.
If moving from one
area to another puts
such pressure on
the staff, it can be
argued that if it were
not for the security
measures it would be
impossible for NGOs
to reach remote areas
in Afghanistan under
direct control of the
Taliban. In this case
the question then
goes beyond whether
MSF and the ICRC
are concerned that
any
involvement
of
the
military
might
endanger
the
humanitarian
principles, but more
specifically, how to
address the principle
of humanity when
faced
with
such
struggles?
The principle of
humanity includes
the right of affected
populations to receive
humanitarian
assistance, as well
as a right to dignity
and respect (ICRC).
Most of the victims
of conflict areas
receiving aid live in
countries or regions
controlled by extreme
non-governmental
armed groups and
have no other access
to assistance. In
these
cases
the
military does in fact
become the protector
of
humanitarian
principles in conflict
zones.
Therefore,
is it is logical to
assume that the
implementation of
the military has, in
fact, enlarged the
area of humanitarian
assistance?
The
military has the
capability
and
resources to reach
a
population
in
need which would
otherwise
be
impossible. There is
no doubt militaries
possess the most
sophisticated means
to conduct logistic
operations
(Olson,
2006).
One of the most
recent examples was
the implementation
of US military forces
in the Philippines
during the aftermath
of Typhoon Haiyan in
November 2013. Due
to their logistics and
aerial capacities the
US military was able
to reach areas others
could not. In addition
to the capacities of
conducting logistic
operations, militaries
have the capability
of ensuring security.
In
this
regard,
governments
and
army
officials
advocating
for
closer civil-military
relations
often
suggest that without
security and safety
for civilians and
organisations,
development cannot
happen, but without
development, there
can be no lasting
security
(Baker,
2007).
considering
them
part of the process to
occupy the country
(Metcalf, Giffen &
Elhawary,
2011).
These
perceptions
by armed opposition
groups
endanger
aid and the staff
providing it.
The
ability
of
militaries to protect
both national and
international
staff
in conflict regions is
often used by military
c o m m a n d e r s
or
governments
claiming they have
the duty to do so.
In this regard the
argument often used
is that humanitarian
aid workers, without
the protection of
the military, are soft
targets for terrorist
groups.
Another
major
concern
by
the
ICRC regarding the
‘militarisation of aid’,
and misconceptions
resulting from it, is
that aid that has been
provided to civilians
in Afghanistan has
not been given on a
voluntary basis, a
core component of
the ICRC (Wortel,
2009). Various case
studies
indicate
this has not always
been
the
case
for
the
military.
On one occasion
in
Afghanistan,
humanitarian
operations led by
NATO forces were
conducted on the
basis of gathering
information (Olson,
2006). In order for
Afghan civilians to
receive aid that was
distributed by ISAF
forces (International
Security Assistance
Forces),
members
of Afghan families
were asked to inform
the security forces
on the position of the
Taliban strongholds
in the mountains.
A 2011 statement by
the Islamic Emirate
of
Afghanistan
dictated
that
no
distinction
would
be made between
the
UN,
NGO’s,
and other foreign
organisations,
as
they
considered
them all to be funded
by the US under the
name of Provisional
Reconstruction
Teams, or PRTs, and
aid
organisations.
The
statement
indicated that the
group felt threatened
by aid organisations
and
PRTs,
UN photo
40_c´ nect
minimal_41
“The strategy of the ICRC has been so successful in Afghanistan it has
finally been able to fully re-open its headquarters in Kandahar.”
Such activities by the
military have caused MSF
and the ICRC to become very
sceptical about the nature
of the aid that is given to
populations in need. The
ICRC points out that under
international humanitarian
law the occupying powers
must provide aid in an
impartial
way
without
making any distinctions
based on religious, ethnic or
political bases (ICRC).
This has not always been the
case with the military.
The US military has been
accused of conducting a
campaign in Afghanistan
where Afghans could receive
food baskets in exchange for
weapons and ammunition
(Rana,
2004).
Similarly
the ICRC has criticised
Colombian
government
army commandos in the past
who used civilian clothing
and Red Cross emblems
to rescue a government
official (Henckaerts and
Doswald-Beck,
2005).
Another similar incident
occurred in Afghanistan with
American soldiers gathering
intelligence while driving
around in white Toyota Land
Cruisers similar to the ones
used by the UN (Global
Research, 2012).
All these deliberate activities
by the army as part of a
‘winning hearts and minds’
policy have led MSF and
the ICRC to withdraw from
projects,
claiming
the
military was responsible
for a so-called ‘blurring of
lines’. ICRC officers have
shown their concern in many
cases about these activities,
claiming that civilians and
terrorist groups can no longer
see the difference between
aid workers and military
forces giving aid.
All these deliberate
activities by the
army as part of a
‘winning hearts
and minds’ policy
have led MSF
and the ICRC to
withdraw from
projects, claiming
the military was
responsible for a
so-called ‘blurring
of lines’.
In a 1997 speech, the former
Commander of the United
States Marine Corps, Charles
C. Krulak, remarked, “In one
moment in time our service
members will be feeding and
clothing displaced refuges
- providing humanitarian
assistance. In the next
moment, they will be holding
two warring tribes apart
-peacekeeping. Finally, they
will be fighting a highly lethal
mid-intensity battle. All in
42_c´ nect
the same day, all within three
city blocks” (Rana, 2004).
It is due to this blurring of lines
that MSF has decided the
only way for their members
to provide humanitarian aid
assistance in conflict zones
is not to use armed guards,
mitigating the perception
of militarisation. Instead,
MSF favours dialogue with
all parties at all times; if the
aim is to provide aid to all at
all times, then the only way
to do so is to get involved
in discussions. The same
method has also been taken
on by the ICRC, causing
criticism in the international
community for talking with
the Taliban despite paving
the way for future, fruitful
discussions. Today a number
of organisations and even
US Forces and the Afghan
government have declared
they have been involved
in talks with the Taliban.
President Karzai has even
offered members of the
Taliban
the
opportunity
to take part in the Afghan
parliament.
The strategy of the ICRC
has been so successful in
Afghanistan it has finally
been able to fully re-open its
headquarters in Kandahar.
These successes have only
been possible because of
the organisation’s rapport
with Afghan civilians. The
ICRC’s new video-call system
programme
established
this effectively with the
local
population:
every
week hundreds of Afghans
gather in front of the ICRC
headquarters in Kandahar to
use their video-call system
to contact their friends and
family members who have
been held captive in one of
the prisons in the country.
The popularity of the ICRC
has made it possible for them
to be the only NGO in the area
that has a fully foreign staff.
The ICRC has also pointed out
that thanks to the impartiality
they have established it
has been possible for the
organisation to run a 24/7
hospital offering aid to
civilians and Taliban fighters
at the same time. In fact this
method is one of the most
successful operations in the
history of Afghanistan aid
provisions.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Baker, Jon, 2007. Quick Impact Projects: towards a ‘whole of government’ approach. Journal of
International Affairs, 8(21).
Wortel, Eva, 2009. Humanitarians and their moral stance in war: the underlying values.
International Review of the Red Cross, 91(876), pp.779-802.
Olson, Lara, 2006. Fighting for Humanitarian Space: NGOs in Afghanistan. Journal of Military
and Strategic Studies, North America. Available at: <http://jmss.synergiesprairies.ca/jmss/
index.php/jmss/article/view/121/133> [Accessed 06 August 2014].
ICRC, 1997. Humanitarian action and peace-keeping operations. Available at: <http://www.
icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/other/57jnj7.htm> [Accessed 06 August 2014].
Metcalfe, V., Griffen, A., and Elhawary, S., 2011. UN Integration and Humanitarian Space:
An Independent study commissioned by the UN integration steering group. Journal of
Humanitarian Policy group.
Rana, Raj, 2004. Contemporary challenges in the civil-military relationship: Complementarity
or incompatibility? International Review of the Red Cross, 86(855), pp.565-591.
Henckaerts, J., and Doswald-Beck, L., 2005. Customary International Humanitarian Law: Vol
II: Practice. Cambridge: 2005.
Global Research, 2012. Dirty and deadly secret: NATO troops disguise themselves as civilians
in Afghanistan. Available at: <http://www.globalresearch.ca/dirty-and-deadly-secretnatotroops-disguise- themselves-as-civilians-in-afghanistan/29009> [Accessed 06 August
2014].
c´ nect_43
An Intro to the Joint Programme
Committee
The NOHA Joint Programme Committee (JPC) has
many duties. This committee analyses and issues advice
to the NOHA Board of Directors and coordinators on the
teaching and assessment of regulations, procedures,
as well as the teaching of the Master’s. As such the JPC
operates on a ‘network’ level, discussing issues that
affect the Master’s as a whole, not issues confined to one
of the participating universities.
The main task of the JPC is to represent the NOHA
students at the highest possible level. The members of
the committee are selected from the seven participating
universities within the network, with each university
selecting two representatives; one from among the staff,
and one from among the students. Therefore, the JPC
consists of fourteen members.
The first meeting usually takes place during the IP,
so get to thinking about your representative now, and
make sure it is someone reliable and dedicated to giving
feedback. It could even be you. During the first meeting
the members will choose, from among themselves, a
Chair, Vice Chair and a Secretary.
The role of the Chair is to organize and oversee the JPC
meetings. The Chair can also call urgent meetings over
Skype if a situation arises that he or she feels deserves
consultation. This person needs to be able to remain
calm and quiet in meetings to allow the discussion to
unfold, and strict enough to keep on topic and on time.
The Vice Chair takes over these duties in the absence
of the Chair, while the Secretary is in charge of
documenting the meetings, or ‘taking minutes’. This
usually involves some pretty swift writing and then
typing up and circulating the minutes after the meeting.
44_c´ nect
c´ nect_45