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Humanitarianism meets conflict sensitivity Rooting humanitarian responses in conflict sensitivity.

Dr. Khabele Matlosa, Director of the African Union Department of Political Affairs, delivering his opening remarks.
Dr. Khabele Matlosa, Director of the African Union Department of Political Affairs, delivering his opening remarks.

On Tuesday LPI’s Horn of Africa Regional Programme along with the African Union Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and UNOCHA held a workshop with the Emergency Preparedness and Response Sub‐Cluster on “Strengthening Conflict Sensitive Humanitarian Responses in Africa.” Convening organisations such as Saferworld, UNHCR, Interpeace and ECOWAS, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Sub‐Cluster was established in 2011 as a part of the United Nation’s coordinated support to the African Union and to African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as part of the Ten Years Capacity Building Program of the United Nations to the African Union. This workshop aimed to bring to light to inform action on conflict sensitive humanitarian responses on the continent. Giving the opening remarks, Dr. Khabele Matlosa of the AU Department of Political Affairs, reminded participants that systemic humanitarian responses “must be rooted in an awareness of the context of the conflict.”

Read the except of the background paper

While natural disaster induced humanitarian crises, especially drought-related ones, are not uncommon in Africa, much of the continent’s humanitarian crises are induced by conflict. In the 2015 Global Humanitarian Overview[1], all African countries in focus for humanitarian assistance (DRC, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, CAR) all were contexts where the crises were induced by conflict and/or exacerbated by it. As traditional interstate conflicts, where there are clear sides to the conflict, are increasingly replaced with intrastate conflicts with multiple conflicting parties, even seemingly noble deeds such as provision of food, shelter and medicine to preserve life, and alleviate human suffering can negatively influence the conflict dynamics at hand if done in a manner that does not take into the complexities of a conflict situation in the planning and implementation of the humanitarian intervention.

This reality demands that humanitarian actors better understand the conflict dynamics in which they operate, acknowledge their potential role, and respond in ways that are informed by this understanding and in a manner that contributes to peace positively. While this may sound like a responsibility beyond the mandate of humanitarianism, the appeal is not for humanitarian actors to build peace but rather to contribute towards it.

For the full background paper download here

[1] UNOCHA, Global Humanitarian Overview 2015. A consolidated appeal to support people affected by disaster and conflict.