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Dateline

Published Date: Jan 17, 2012

EXPERTS UNDERSCORE CONFLICT SENSITIVITY FOR HUMANITARIAN ACTORS

Humanitarian assistance without conflict sensitivity can cause or aggravate tensions and conflicts and may end up doing more harm than good, said experts during the launch of a research study “Applying Conflict Sensitivity in Emergency Response: Current Practices and Way Forward” jointly organised by CARE International and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Monday.
The study is based on field research in Haiti, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and maps the current state of conflict sensitive approaches (CSA) in emergencies. It identifies good practices, gaps and ways to integrate CSA across emergency programming cycle.
The study concludes there are clear opportunities for synergy between conflict sensitivity integration and the emergency capacity-building initiatives currently ongoing within many agencies and puts forward the idea of sector-wide ‘Minimum Standards’ that integrate CSA across the Humanitarian Program Cycle.
Dr Abid Q Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, said that we must be ready to deal with more conflicts and old ways of responding to emergencies would not deliver any more.
He highlighted the need to sensitize disaster management polices adding that good policies can reduce the devastative impacts of disasters as often policy failures lead to human suffering.
Monika Vrsanska, Programme Officer CAFOD Pakistan, highlighting various aspects of study, recommended minimum standards to ensure conflict sensitive emergency response such as inclusion of CSA in preparedness plans and training for senior and operational staff, inclusion of ‘Good Enough’ conflict analysis in emergency assessment phase, analysis of partnership strategy, orientation of new staff, use of participatory methods in managing distributions, and inclusion of conflict benchmarks in monitoring and evaluations.
Aimal Khan Khattak, Senior Advocacy Advisor CARE International, maintained that conflict sensitivity in development assistance can serve not only to decrease levels of conflict or the potential for violent conflicts, but also to increase the effectiveness of the assistance.
He said integrating conflict sensitivity into development means thinking differently about programming, and adopting a new institutional mind-set.
Naseer Memon, Chief Executive Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), said recent flood disasters have removed thin layer from medley of conflicts in society. He maintained that professionals engaged in disaster response need to understand the socio-cultural and political complexity in different parts of the country.
“Issues like local employment, local procurement, manoeuvrings in relief operations and marginalisation of weaker segments in the wake of disasters have emerged as key conflicts during recent disasters,” added Memon.
He urged the disaster response organisations to be better oriented with these conflicts and incorporate these learning in future plans.
Amajd Nazeer, Policy Advocacy and Campaigning Advisor Oxfam, appreciated the launching of much needed research study. He said that distribution of food, shelter and other vital commodities for life potentially cause conflict amongst the affected and beneficiaries. He said most of the humanitarian actors learn things on ground resulting into developing less sensitivity towards conflicts prevails in our actions and attitudes.
He said no humanitarian agency employed any kind of formal conflict analysis tools while dealing with emergencies in Pakistan, a multilingual, multi-cultural, multi-religious and highly polarized society.
During question-answer session, participants stressed on risk reduction, preparedness, further focus on gender, developing Pakistan-specific conflict sensitive approaches and a separate study on FATA and Balochistan.