Weekly Humanitarian Blog posts selection

Welcome to our weekly humanitarian blog posts selection

Since March 2020, IHSA prepares a weekly collection of blog posts that relate to humanitarian crises, and the responses to crisis from people, communities, politicians, and humanitarians.

On this page, you can find our weekly selection of humanitarian blog posts.  This selection is chosen to reflect the latest thinking on humanitarian crisis, highlighting key issues in migration and displacement, famine and food crisis, politics, human rights, disaster preparedness and response, and aid policy and practice.

This selection is managed and curated by Mihir Bhatt, Nicolás Caso, Dorothea Hilhorst, Susanne JasparsRodrigo Mena and Marloes Viet.

Contact us if you want to suggest a post for the weekly selection. Subscribe to receive our weekly blog posts selection or visit the complete list of humanitarian blogs here.

Our weekly selections



Conflict, famine and forced migration

18 July – 24 July

This week our selection focuses on conflict, famine, and migration. They highlight the importance of examining protection after conflict has officially ended, and the authority of customary law in holding armed actors to account. The role of digital technologies in conflict and famine, and humanitarian response, and how humanitarian law could apply, also features. The conflict in Ethiopia in particular is covered, not only in Tigray but also the neglected war in Oromia – resulting in famine and forced migration. The selected blogs expose the dangers of focussing on smugglers as it hides the role of the Western policies in causing harm to people on the move. They also highlight the importance of listening to refugee voices themselves. The same applies to research methods: issues of informed consent, remuneration, and anonymity need to be reconsidered giving research participants a greater role in balancing risk and recognition. 

Recession in humanitarian action?

10 July – 17 July

Are we about to face one of the widest spread recessions in humanitarian action? Reading the blogs on humanitarian action this week make it seem that is where humanitarian action is headed. The reasons for the humanitarian recession—a period when the humanitarian activities and efforts are not successful—are as follows.

We have yet to find ways to avoid the harm done by digital technology in humanitarian action; as well as finding out why Africa is so rich in farmland and yet still so hungry. Further, we can do little to stop UK drop out of top performance in aid transparency index; the history of discrimination against minorities in Sri Lanka has contributed to economic and humanitarian crisis; and the neglect of climate change related impacts is leading us to more conflict.

In Ethiopia we have yet to find successful ways to protect and promote livelihoods, incomes, and assets, and the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is not new to us yet we are unclear what we want to achieve with its help. Humanitarian support in Ukraine is taking place at the cost of the ongoing support in Horn of Africa and the war tells us that even basic food security in Ukraine and for victims is so far from the urgent need.

Is a humanitarian recession—shrinking, slowing down, and shutting down—almost here?

Refugees’ crises, disaster prevention and social resilience

4 July – 10 July

This week’s blog posts selection addresses a variety of topics. On refugees’ crises we include one post on self-reliance in Ghana as a biopolitical instrument. Another post shares nine rapid behavioural research studies conducted on the experience of refugees and their understanding of COVID-19, including cases in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Colombia.

Three posts discuss disasters. One explains the new fund for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response that could change the global health landscape for the better. Another examines the invisibility of riverbank erosion as a disaster in Assam, India. A third post advocates for the role of social resilience in addressing heat waves.

To address other crises, a post reflects on
how an UN Charter can reconcile idealism and realism. Other posts advocate the UN Security Council must vote to expand cross-border aid access from Türkiye into Syria, and one shares three reasons for hope that South Sudan can find peace after 11 years of war.

Making humanitarian response equitable

27 June – 3 July

This week our selection focuses on improving humanitarian response and making it more equitable.

Addressing racism is key in the humanitarian sector, as aid workers of colour may be exposed to greater risk or their specific risks. Climate action also reflects inequalities, and more is needed from western economies. One post argues that countries in the global South can exert pressure because of the West’s dependence on their labour and resources. Other posts highlight the importance of being guided by humanitarian principles, particularly after the well-funded response to the Ukraine crisis compared to others. Also, the importance of early and long-term action to prevent crises – including innovative ways to provide hurricane insurance to the poorest.

In conflict, it means applying international humanitarian law, making sure attention is given to how women are affected as well as men.


World Refugee Day: The Right to Seek Safety

13 – 19 June

As we celebrated the World Refugee Day this week, we were unsettled by our achievements and the almost endless road ahead of us. This week we had several posts that helped us find a way to address our challenges.

For example, the borders that define who is a refugee, from where and to where, depend more on the power of those who draw the borders than on the reality of the refugees. Another post invited us to reflect on whether the need of a refugee from Ukraine overrides the long-standing needs of refugees from the Horn of Africa.

Other posts raised relevant questions in the current context, for example: Will the concept of climate security help to better protect climate refugees? And how can we more effectively protect the right to seek safety that refugees have?
Is popular resistance a problem for Russia? And what position do locally led responses, as we see in Ukraine, and resistance have in humanitarian aid? Is this approach valid for a humanitarian crisis arising in Somalia?

What else can we do to help the victims of the humanitarian crisis in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan? Can something be done for the victims facing multiple crises like the coup, COVID-19 and the economic slowdown in Myanmar?

Refugees – individuals and their context – now live in a humanitarian world that is much more complex and contradictory than ever.

The looming food crisis and its humanitarian consequences

6 – 12 June

This week’s blogs brought a variety of topics to our selection. Reflecting on the new Global Report on Food Crises 2022, a blog explored key drivers and challenges of the world’s acute levels of food insecurity. Another blog also reflected on the looming global food crisis from a legal perspective, including the human right to food and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In relation to the Ukraine invasion, which also has implications for the current global food crisis, one blog reflected on why the UK Government needs to change its attitude towards humanitarian aid and another on why people should donate to humanitarian logistics in the construction sector rather than sending supplies. Furthermore, a blog post presented the impacts of invasion using the case of Kenya’s economy and increasing poverty levels.

Climate change implications for the humanitarian sector inspired two blog posts: One presented insights from a presentation by Dr Robert Glasser on the implications of disasters from humanitarian practitioners, and another presents the case for an urgent need for a green humanitarian system.

On other crises, one post presented Ethiopia’s complicated barriers to peace and possible ways out. Regarding Sri Lanka, an alternative perspective to understand the country’s protest is shared, stressing the role of structural weaknesses. Finally, based on research on protection approaches, a blog post shared four models to safeguard civilians from harm.


Addressing racist and depoliticizing narratives

30 May – 5 June

This week we covered issues from racism, to forced migration, and the dire situation in Afghanistan.

We highlighted how racist narratives are perpetuated in aid: from saviourist storytelling, to excluding issues of racial injustice from research, and assumptions that white Western culture and achievements are superior.  In Sri Lanka, journalists use depoliticizing narratives in covering the crisis in Sri Lanka, where violent government suppression of protestors is presented as ‘clashes’.

On forced migration, we had blogs on children’s involvement in smuggling because they need to assist their families, and on increasingly racialised bordering techniques.

On Afghanistan, we highlighted the plight of women in accessing education and a crackdown on female journalists.

We ended with blogs on the failure of the UK’s new development policy to address today’s crises, the needs and rights of families of missing persons, and how cash as aid needs better engagement with retailers to keep prices down’.  

Starvation crimes, war in Ukraine and climate-related disasters

23 – 29 May

We started this week’s selection with a well-wrought post by Alex de Waal. In this post he accused the UN secretary-general to cover up the facts around food as a weapon of war and argues how UN plans to curb food shortages do little to address starvation crimes.

Several posts addressed gender issues, about the role of women in peacebuilding, and the complexities of child care for women refugees. As the world witnesses the war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, an interesting post this week asked why these crimes happen and what their rationale is. It has also been remarked that many Ukrainian refugees bring along their pets, inspiring a post on animal protection in humanitarian crises.

With climate change manifesting in increasing levels of disaster, we had two posts addressing how communities try to adapt, situated in India and Zimbabwe respectively. In a similar vein, we selected a post on how social innovation can promote disaster risk reduction in Brazil.

Lastly, a contribution from the corner of legal humanitarian studies about privacy protection of refugees. We also draw  attention to a review of the book Violences Extrêmes. Enquêter, secourir, juger written by Benoît Guillou (in French).


Diplomatic and legal action for refugees

16 – 22 May

This weeks’ selection contained quite a few articles dealing with diplomatic and legal action that would advance the protection of refugees. We included the latest blog of the ‘missing migrants’ and ‘ border criminologies’ series, and a post from ICRC on the status of people finding themselves in a belligerent state.

There was also a post calling on African governments to make more diplomatic noise about the discrimination and violence faced by the 17.000 African students that were in Ukraine when the war started. Further, attention to the erosion of refugee rights in Africa, and a post detailing how saving migrant’s lives is everyone’s responsibility.

And there wass a post on how Chile, a country known for its relative decent reception of refugees – is getting more restrictive in its policies. We began this week’s selection with a post on how the new DFID policy misses the link between conflict and poverty: the SDGs are most behind in conflict-affected and fragile areas.

Climate change, anticipatory action and humanitarian aid

9 – 15 May

This week’s selection offered new opinions in a rapidly changing climate. Climate change is having the most severe and lasting impact on the poorest countries of the Global South. One way to address these impacts is to revise the first year of the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations to make it more effective. Any anticipatory action to reduce the impact of climate change is not possible without well-designed triggers to support decision-making. No action is effective without the participation of those directly building climate resilience and addressing conflict. In fact, in Yemen, it is possible to find an environmental pathway to peace as one blog suggested. However, if the construction of dams, as such a pathway, for example, is meant to control floods, in Arunachal Pradesh, India, the pathway does not lead to peace or prosperity. In fact, it is not the floods, but the lack of water that is affecting agriculture in Tigray, a region of Ethiopia at war.

Emerging conflicts in Africa, like the return of military coups, undo decades of democratic gains. And as a result, for example, keeping the peace in South Sudanis a race against time for the UN.

Finally and beyond from climate change and coups, lessons are offered for war-torn Ukraine from the Rohingya crisis.

Catastrophic disasters in conflict zones

2 – 8 May

Disaster can be catastrophic in places affected by conflict. On this, one blog post brought to the fore the high risk of extreme flooding in 2022 in South Sudan, while another shared five rules for climate adaptation in fragile and conflict-affected situations. As one publication added to the discussion, governing urban and metropolitan areas is also challenging in times of emergency and in an age of uncertainty.

Conflict and war also bring other consequences. One of them is collateral damage from the use of indirect fire in populated areas, on which a post described the sources of this damage and the tools available to reduce them. Two current crises are Syria and Ukraine, and although they begin at different times, a post reflected on the broader picture veiling these conflicts and draws conclusions for the future.

While humanitarian aid is needed to address emergencies, it is also necessary to sustain efforts in development and peacebuilding. The Humanitarian, Development, Peace (HDP) or Triple Nexus is an approach fostering collaboration between these efforts, but the role of national governments in delivering such a strategy is still debatable, as one blog post discussed. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is also an agenda that fosters long-term changes. On the occasion of being almost at the halfway point for the 2030 deadline of the SDGs, one blog post assessed current challenges and re-makes a case for them.

Finally, we included a blog that examined definitions, expectations, and standards related to data sharing between humanitarian actors and donor governments. And a post that shared the benefits of cash assistance with no strings attached, particularly why it’s good for people’s health.


Multiplying crises and analysis of (in) action

25th April – 1st May

This week we focused on the multiplying crises affecting many populations today.

Covid, conflict, displacement, economic crisis, oppression, and climate change affect people simultaneously, increasing the risk of humanitarian crisis and famine. This week’s blog posts highlighted some of the issues: wars conducted by authoritarian regimes, the exclusion of stateless groups in refugee response (in Ukraine), and of refugees from Covid response (in South Africa). Europe’s anti-refugee policies continue through containment and deterrence. The risk of hunger globally, resulting from the war in Ukraine is increasing.

Some solutions were also offered: for example the use of humanitarian and Islamic law in regulating the conduct of war and the protection of civilians in Afghanistan as well as the role of women in Ukraine’s resistance in addressing multiple crises.

Finally, the role and limitations of satellite images in understanding war was discussed.

Will we ever make local humanitarian action truly transformative?

11th – 17th April

This week we highlighted the concern about the global vision of the ongoing humanitarian crises. As if the system could deal with the crisis from one point to another but could not deal with its spread or persistence. Several of the blogs selected this week focused on this concern.

Posts this week focused on topics from the plight of refugees in Syria to the fragile peace in Ethiopia and from millions of Afghan refugees without a future to communities affected by the pandemic in Kikwit. We also included posts that focused on the emerging nationalist propaganda in and from Poland and the urgent need for reconstruction plans for Ukraine. The humanitarian system is unable to address the root causes of these crises. The need to address the power and knowledge around the humanitarian crisis calls for a radical rethink.

This week we also included reflections on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to six-year-old humanitarian problems in Turkey or mounting state crimes in Greece. The humanitarian system is struggling to move beyond the precarious daily response to long-term fundamental changes in the global system of which the humanitarian system is a part.

When will we find timeless, definitive and relevant global ways to make local humanitarian action truly transformative?

Addressing crises in protracted conflict contexts

4th – 10th April

This week we featured a diverse selection of blog posts along with some on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Two posts discussed ways to address crises in protracted conflicts. The first presented knowledge gaps and policy challenges for social assistance, while the second addressed the role of cash-plus programmes for livelihood support in protracted crises. In a similar discussion, we also had a post advocating for a reform of Africa’s current global financing system, and another on human-centred design approaches in crisis response.

The need for climate science translators was presented as a new professional profile needed in our sector. In particular, to act as a broker, and translate and tailor climate science data to humanitarian and development actors especially in the context of anticipatory action.

Ukraine, we started with a post that shared a personal account of the effects of the war in a diary format. More on the impact of the invasion, another post shared about food insecurity in Ukraine and the effect of the war on other crises on the globe. This week, we also included posts that look at the anti-war movement in Russia, and reflect on the repression of these voices. Another blog suggested how a popular uprising could oust Putin.

crises in other latitudes, one blog post (in Spanish) discussed the current crises in Peru, another on Sri Lanka and the reason behind current crises. Lastly, a post reflected on the crisis and state of emergency declared in El Salvador.

Finally, we shared a monitor with regular updates and an interactive map of the upcoming elections in Africa in 2022.


War and displacement in Ukraine and elsewhere

28th March –  3rd April

This week we focused on war, displacement and migration, in Ukraine but also elsewhere. We had a blog that argued for emphasizing the welcoming of refugees rather than war and numbers – a narrative which risks leading to fear and deterrence. The UK Nationality and Borders Bill focuses on deterrence, criminalising refugees who do not arrive via safe legal routes but not acknowledging that for many such routes do not exist. An analysis of social media highlighted the polarisation of debate on migration in Europe.

The selected blogs also covered wars in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia – where a coup or a humanitarian truce present little change in practice.  Climate migration also features – and according to the IPCC report is already happening on a large scale.

On Ukraine, we had a couple of blogs which highlight the global implications of the war, on energy supplies, geopolitics, on food security. The Horn of Africa in particular is suffering from increased food prices because of war in Ukraine. Others focus on the role of women as warriors as well as victims and the likelihood that Russia is guilty of genocide

Truce in Ethiopia and humanitarian impact of Ukraine war

21st – 27th March

We started this week’s selection with a post on the truce in Ethiopia, which if it would hold, could lead to access to millions of people in dire need of aid.

We included one post seeking attention to the crucial role of women’s rights organizations in humanitarian response. Another post shared a review of how development studies align to the SDGs and risk to uncritically endorse mainstream development, providing food for thought for our parallel field of humanitarian studies. With the rising attention to humanitarian diplomacy and advocacy, this week’s selection highlighted a post on displacement diplomacy in Africa.

Further, a post on what happens in the often-forgotten border areas of Nigeria, and a piece reviewing what many see as the genocide against the Uyghur people in China and Chinese international muslim politics. Then, we had a number of posts about the humanitarian implication of the Ukraine war for the global food situation, and the reception of Ukranian refugees in Europe. Several posts unpacked the reasons of the unequal treatment of refugees from Ukraine and Africa. 

Cyber attacks, sanctions and insecure humanitarian corridors

7th – 13th March

This week the war in Ukraine took the stage once again in terms of blog posts. Among many posts covering different angles of the invasion, we selected four on our field: One reflected on the humanitarian corridors, considering Russia’s history of not respecting these pathways. Another blog discussed new technology-related threats humanitarians are facing in Ukraine. The refugee crisis this war is creating is analysed from the point of view of the UK’s capacities to meet its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Finally, one blog post reflected how the sanctions imposed over Russia might first affect the most vulnerable ones in the country.

Covering other conflicts, one post analysed Houthi’s attacks against the UAE with an International Humanitarian Law lens. The conflict in Tigray brought a post on the experience of a psychotherapist treating survivors of sexual violence.

This week we also had two international days. First, UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day inspired a blog post on the role of accent and language within the aid sector. And to celebrate International Women’s Day, the Women’s International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR) brought us a selection of women leaders across the Asia-Pacific region working on “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

Finally, on the European Union development policy, one post analysed problematic biases present in EU foreign aid literature using post-colonial lenses.


Heightened conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

28th February – 6th March

This week our selection continued to be dominated by posts about Ukraine. Topics included the millions of people fleeing Ukraine in the face of indiscriminate bombardments. In contrast to earlier influxes of refugees into or wtihin Europe, they have been welcomed by governments and people, reviving the hope of a European refugee and asylum regime in which responsibilities are shared equally. At the same time, racism in reception procedures was apparent. A couple of posts highlighted the importance of understanding the history of the region – of war, displacement, Russia – Ukraine relations and with the wider world.

We also reminded readers of the dire situation in Afghanistan and Nepal. In Afghanistan the population faces a humanitarian catastrophe, and in Nepal the Covid pandemic is not over.  We also had two more blogs from the Border Criminologies series on the everyday violence and resistance in Europe’s migration management during the Covid pandemic, which provides the contrast with the reception of Ukrainians today’.

A historical week: Ukraine and IPCC report

21st – 27th February

This week more than ever, we realise the impact of having a blog platform that assembles posts from the previous week. We like a platform, because we can work with an overview of what came out. Yet, when history unfolds so quickly as it does this week – with the war in Ukraine and the publication of the latest IPCC report – it feels inadequate. Nonetheless, we present an interesting set of posts on the onset of the war and the foreboding of the report.

In addition, we have posts about International Humanitarian Law, the need for humanitarians to review their policies regarding transactional sex, and about ongoing realities in the rest of the world, including a post in Spanish on the humanitarian border between Mexico and the United States of America. We also present a series of blogs that came out of a panel of the IHSA in November about everyday violence against migrants.

Ukraine´s unfolding humanitarian disaster

14th – 20th February

Locally led humanitarian studies is something we all look forward to. We had a collection of posts that were “localized” in terms of topics, insights, data, authors, approach, and in some cases many of these simultaneously.

A post on nervous aid workers in Ukraine who fear unfolding humanitarian ‘disaster’ was both, a local alarm as well as a reminder for all those who study and work before a crisis deepens. Three scenarios for the Ukraine-Russia crisis were also shared in another post that gives us a bottom up view.

Disability inclusion in community-based climate resilient programs is not common and a local case study of Indonesia showed us ways of doing this. Giving people with disabilities effective localized protection in conflict and crises is a must and possible, another post stated.

The northern institutions dominate international development research said a group of scholars in their post to make us think again about local “representation”, “embeddedness” and “voice”. One post on Data Requirements for Anticipatory Action was useful for the humanitarian sector as it aims to do far more local actions before a crisis than after or during.

Other posts reminded us that Somalis in crowded camps are a big concern and international engagement in Libya keeps worsening prospects for peace. An analysis of childhood vaccination rates in conflict areas found some local surprises too.

This week we also included the first post from the ¨Everyday violence and resistance in Europe’s migration management during the Covid pandemic¨series. In this post, the authors introduced a Border Criminologies blog series dedicated to ten unique research and practice-inspired blog posts exploring everyday violence and resistance at Europe’s borders.

Changes in warfare and humanitarian aid

7th – 13th February

We open this weekly blog post selection with a piece on the occasion of 160 years since the publication of Henri Dunant’s book ‘A Memory of Solferino’. In this post, Hugo Slim reflects on changes in warfare and humanitarian aid that we see today compared to when the book was published and presents three main policy calls.

Two bogs post reflect critically on the colonial legacy of the aid sector. First, Themrise Khan challenges the notion of “decolonisation” and discusses whether it is appropriate to address western perceptions of development aid. From another angle, Maha Shuayb discusses the localisation approache’s role and possibilities to address “deep-rooted racism and ongoing legacies of colonialism”.

In terms of current crises, Shamin Asghari shared about Afghan people’s challenges to access asylum status. On Tigray, Ethiopia, one blog argues for the urgency of aid now and the government’s role in aid allocation. The role of small-scale, everyday practices to build peace in Colombia against the new surges of violence is what a group of peace researchers share in another blog post. Previous crises also foster interesting reflections. While a group of researchers share lessons from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 10th Ebola epidemic, using the case of Armenia-Azerbaijan ‘44-Day War’, Nurlan Mustafayev explores the legality of the use of ballistic missiles on cities under international law.

Lastly, Beata Paragi brings us a blog post on the politics of screening, particularly the impact of technological solutions used by NGOs when screening in the context of counterterrorism. We close our selection with post by Liridona Gashi, Willy Pedersen and Thomas Ugelvik on detainees’ experiences and coping strategies in the Norwegian immigration detention centre Trandum.

Challenges in averting conflict-induced humanitarian crisis

31st January – 6th February

This week our selection focused on conflict, how it leads to humanitarian crisis, and what can be done to avert it.

In Afghanistan, for only the second time in 30 years, a ‘humanitarian carve-out’ has been agreed in the face of ongoing international sanctions. In Myanmar, the risk of civil war and crisis is increasing daily, and our selected blogs focused on mediation and international action. In Ukraine, the need for UN peace-keepersis discussed. In a blog on Ethiopia, our attention was drawn to the manipulation of the media in Tigray, and resulting difficulties in getting accurate information or organising a humanitarian response. Another post highlighted how the humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains immense given the intersection of bombing, blockades and a humanitarian fiasco.
We also covered the interaction between politics and climate change, and its humanitarian consequences.The selected blogs highlight the importance of locally-led humanitarian action and research’. 


The need to create a humanitarian digital space

24th – 30th January

There were several post in this week’s selection concerning reports and their effects. One of these criticized the UN report on the implementation of the Marrakech Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, showing how the report fails to live up to actively monitor that rights of migrants are – if not improved – not further eroded. There was also a post about the aftermath of the publication of the 2021 report ‘Time to decolonize aid’ that was published in the summer of 2021. A post by ICRC talked about a new report on the immense civilian toll of the use of explosive weapons, calling for a policy of avoidance, and there is an interview about research into the human rights effects of UN sanctions, triggered by the current sanctions against Afghanistan.

Another post spoke about internet as a weapon of war and the need to create a humanitarian digital space. We also presented a post on torture in migration detention centres, this time in Mexico. A post on Moroccan child refugees in Spain pointed at the advocacy tasks both in Morocco to curb child abuse and in Spain for better hosting. A powerful post spoke of the situation of the Banyamulenge minority in DRC – by many considered subject to genocide – and the role of research to give voice to this community. Speaking of voice: we ended with a post examining the decision of WHO head Dr Tedros to speak out about humanitarian needs in Tigray.

Inside stories and the bigger picture of humanitarian crises

17th – 23rd January

As the world watches how renewed conflict becomes a more and more likely possibility, the first post of this week talked about how institutions and resilience in Ukraine has already been heavily eroded over the last years. Two posts dealt with the largely hidden violations that come through the use of drones in warfare, in Afghanistan and Tigray respectively.

We always love blogs that allow us to peep inside the system. Read the blog reporting on the dismal conditions in Italy’s detention centres, despite the large budgets going to these centres, or the post on evidence of violence committed by Frontex, and the post on how financing development in the US is going under the Biden administration.

A number of posts focused on politics, advocacy and resistance around or underlying humanitarian crises, such as a report on resistance in Sudan, a blog on billionaire greed during COVID-19 and a post on the need to fight against restrictive labour policies in relation to climate change.

A post on solving hunger argues that structural solutions can never make safety nets, such as humanitarian action, redundant as pockets of hunger are likely to evolve in all times. One of the almost forgotten areas of hunger today is Madagascar, as another post elaborates. Finally, attention is paid to the continued plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Can aid repair and relief?

10th – 16th January

As we start the year, the humanitarian challenges are rising. Challenges, that we barely learn about in various humanitarian classrooms or research reports.

Can aid serve the double purpose of relief as well as reparation? Khan offers a terrific provocation for not only the colonizers but also the colonies about aid.

Who are non-existent migrants, what brings them on the humanitarian agenda? Read Matevzic’s blog to find out that answers are not that easy. A thoughtful blog by Tarif shows four ways to make humanitarian action “green” and “clean”. Another piece by Vargas-Silva seriously integrates displacement, conflict, and hip-hop into a thought provocative blog.

How can we stop conflict and humanitarian crisis if we offer multilateral loans to poorest countries to come out of vulnerability? Tew and Molyneux offer eye opening data in their blog.

Huizenga suggests the need for international law to link environmental disasters with migration while Beg wrenches our hearts to show the continued cycles of violence against children in the post Bosnian era. And laws have their limits, as we know, for example when we try to prosecute atrocities in Syria, as pointed out in a final blog in this selection.

2022: Humanitarian crises and trends

3rd – 9th January

This week’s blogs brought a variety of topics to our selection. Some posts addressed crises such as: Sudan’s march protest, Mawkibs. Other analysed national and international repercussions of current Ethiopia’s conflict. COVID-19 crisis kept receiving attention, now with a post on the policies and vaccination certificates for undocumented migrants. With a more self-reflection angle and considering Myanmar doctors’ ethical dilemmas, a physician examined his role in the US carceral system. Women’s Rights and role is analysed regarding the criteria for cessation of refugee status for ‘ceased circumstances’.

New publications inspired two posts. One blog used the book ‘States, Markets, and Foreign Aid’ to share why understanding the history of Donor Governments is important to understand the way we think about aid. Another post, from one of the authors of a report on disaster warnings, reflected on the implementation of knowledge from the psychology of warnings.

While not a blog post, important for this year is The New Humanitarian’s piece on the ten crises and trends listed to keep in mind in 2022.

Finally, we were thrilled to share with you the aftermovie of our last IHSA 6th Conference on Humanitarian Studies in 2021 on “New realities of politics and humanitarianism: between solidarity and abandonment”.

Challenges for the localization of aid

13th December – 2nd January

This week we shared a selection of the best readings from the last three weeks of December of 2021. While some posts focused on recurring crises, such as the situations in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine or Sudan others continued to draw attention to more structural challenges in the aid sector. These challenges included giving refugees a voice in developing an effective response to managing the global refugee system and the dangers of the digitization of aid.

Several publications in this week’s selection also focused on the need to localize aid and how to do it properly. From preventing global aid from being so condescending to reimagining localization, there are still many challenges to overcome in aid localization. Other post also suggests how the humanitarian sector can still learn in the midst of the pandemic.

Finally, as the year was just beginning, we also included a post from The New Humanitarian with aid policy trends to watch in 2022.



The difficulties and rights of stateless people

6th – 12th December

Ahead of the upcoming High-Level Officials Meeting on displacement, one blog post reflected on the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) in light of ‘the Norm life cycle’ model. Another unveils tensions at the refugee definition using a queer theory lens. In a similar vein, we had a post discussing the difficulties and rights of stateless people and one on how climate change-related migration might worsen the crisis in the Mediterranean.

On specific country crises, one blog discussed the challenges and implications of the UN Security Council plans to withdraw in time from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Regarding Afghanistan, we had a piece discussing the evacuation of judges from the country following the Taliban takeover and the impact on the future of justice in Afghanistan. More globally, the role of diverse and inclusive humanitarian leadership was presented in a blog post with findings of a recent research report published on the topic.

With a research focus, one blog post delved into the impact, pitfalls and moans of NGO research. At the same time, another reflected on the ethical considerations for inclusive research in the Global South.


Including disabled people in humanitarian response

29th November – 5th December

Following the international Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, we had a number of blogs this week on the exclusion of disabled persons from disaster preparedness planning despite their increased vulnerability. The posts provided examples from the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and other crises. 

Another key topic was the travel apartheid following the identification of the new Covid-19 variant in South Africa. Western countries voting against patent waivers and now travel bans for passengers from Africa points to political and economic rather than humanitarian (or disease prevention) motivations.

We also returned to familiar issues of human rights violations in the conduct of war, illegal detention of people seeking safety in Europe, and how we can promote equal research collaboration between partners from the Global North and South.

Views on the changing landscape of aid

22nd – 28th  November

The global gap between vaccine haves and the vaccine have-nots has widened despite international pledges to enable 40% of adult vaccination in each country. One of the opinion pieces that we included this week claims that instead of global solidarity, COVID-19 has once again spurred disappointing expressions of vaccine nationalism. We also included a plea for more solidarity by health workers in Africa. A post on Ethiopia concerned the need for peace-building, arguing that both sides of the conflict could perhaps win the war, but neither can hope to win peace alone.

The controversy between Elon Musk and WFP  yield a post on what is required to deal with food-insecurity and famine. This goes well together with another post on improving transparency for quality funding. 

We had several posts about ongoing (action) research, including on bottom-up refugee advocacy in Turkey; a light shed on the role of attachment in asylum processes by combining law and anthropology; and a review on the politics of technologies of expulsion in Greece that are not only functional for securitization of refugees but also affects their chance for asylum.

Finally, we include a post on  very interesting research in Gujarat on how communities can deal with (new) compounded and cascading effects of co-located hazards. The theme of climate change adaptation continues with a post on reaching conflict-sensitive resilience, are whether multi-stakeholder pathways are the answer.

Community voices

15th – 21st  November

One of the themes running through this week’s blog posts was the voice of communities. There was an elaborate and beautiful report on the historical peace accord of 1999 in Wanlit in South Sudan, that led to recent initiatives bringing together the same leaders; a testimony from a nurse in Somalia about vaccination inequity; and research on what local communities define success in a project. The theme of localization came back in several more blogs, dealing among others with new USAID policy, and a critical reflection of the competition for funding between national and international NGOs.  And there were more posts on how historical pathways shape the present: a book review of Simone Dietrich’s book on why donors differ (States, Markets and Foreign Aid), and a discussion of the role of religion in Ethiopia.

Further, two blogs about the border between Poland and Belarus, where yet again border politics – rather than immediate conflict or disaster – gave rise to a humanitarian crisis. Several of the blogs this week were relevant to what we see happening with the use of migrants as political weapons. This resonates with the historical use of human shields in conflict. Research by Manos Tsakirise brings out how imaging contributes to dehumanization of refugees, because ‘current visual representations of refugees emphasize a security issue rather than a humanitarian debate – refugees are depicted as “being a crisis” for host nations, rather than finding themselves “in a crisis”’. A different note camefrom the PROTECT Project research that found that, across European countries, a majority of people would be willing to admit protection seekers, rather than paying other countries to do this! This research falls in a tradition that consistently finds that significant populations in Europe are in support of more solidarity, including relocation within the EU.

Finally, a post that nuanced the view of China’s foreign aid, that is usually seen as geo-political and indifferent to the impact on local institutions, and a post that takes stock of COP-26 from the point of view of low-income countries.

The need for a greener aid sector

8th – 14th  November

This week, issues concerning the financing of the humanitarian system still remained a challenge as a post on a Global Fund for Displacement by Per Bilak addresses. Financing social security programs have limited value and outreach to serve people in disasters and health crises as a post in The Conversation states.

Views on the current situation in Afghanistan were also present this week. Sultan Barakat argues that the UN has the power to advise the current rule in Afghanistan to make things better for the Afghans. Who can imagine how humanitarian principles are perceived by the Taliban? Safiullah Taye’s attempt to underline this question is insightful. Sarah Nduu questions the inclusion of elders in humanitarian action which needs to readdress challenges faced by the elderly in the context of COVID-19  and the emerging health and economic crises.

An African Arguments post revealed the eye-opening journey of farmers navigating conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 in Mozambique. These experiences are also relevant to farmers in South Asia countries, including India. What do we know about state-civil society engagement for Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) in the UN Security Council is a question addressed by Louise Olsson. Ana Marleny Bustamante, Francisco Javier Sánchez Chacón, and others share ideas on migration insecurity at the Táchira (Venezuela) – Norte De Santander (Colombia) border, to make us think how we deal with cross border and inter-state migration.

Finally, Andre Krummacher urgently pleaded for the aid sector to go “green” and Giovanna Maletta and Eric G. Berman offer insights on the links between European Peace and the transfer of weapons to fragile states.

The climate crisis is already a humanitarian crisis

1st – 7th  November

The crisis in Ethiopia was at the forefront of this week selection, with a post calling urgently for aid to flow to Tigray to avoid people’s starvation, and other on the role of Security Council and mistakes to avoid in search for peace in the country. On migration and displacement crises, we had posts on the role of Pakistan and the need for a refugee compact for Afghans, the difficult situation that asylum seekers and migrants face in Libya, alternative ways to influence European migration policies through the judicial field. Also, the need to advance food and housing rights for Internally Displaced Persons in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The importance and possibilities of investing in community-driven change and including religious diversity in humanitarian settings brought variety to our selection.

With COP26 unfolding this week, climate change was also present. We shared a post with key lessons on how the humanitarian system can adapt to the effects of climate change and a review of which countries will be affected the worst in Latin America.


From war humanitarianism towards climate humanitarianism

25th – 31st  October

This week several posts reflect on the start of the COP-26. While a post invites the humanitarian community to pivot away from war humanitarianism towards climate humanitarianism, another post shares a plea to not forget people affected by conflict.

On Afghanistan, a post shares why the Hazaras fear the worst under Taliban ruleand another explains what’s happening to the country’s aid. And on the current coup d’état in Sudan, one post reflects on General al-Burhan´s betrayal while another analyses on which factors will the coup succeed or fail.

Finally, a post based on the case of Lebanon, presents how diaspora communities from countries affected by humanitarian crises can play a role in alleviating political and economic challenge. 

COP-26, climate change and displacement

18th – 24th  October

This week’s blog selection joined the conversations on COP-26 with a story on climate-related displacement and the divergent energy positions of African countries.

A post on inclusive data raised questions on how data can be more democratic and how communities should be involved in data about them.

Then we had several blogs on border control, pushbacks and other rogue practices as one of the stories calls it – displaying increasing anger and powerlessness over the treatment of refugees on behalf of European or American populations.

Key questions in humanitarian circles

11th – 17th  October

“How to…?” seemed to be the key question circulating in the humanitarian circles this week. Questions on the ways of doing are becoming more and more important to achieve humanitarian results across areas and sectors.

The limited success and receding chances of timely vaccination remained a great concern as a post on COVAX suggested. Similarly another post found ways to strengthen IMF’s effectiveness in a range of humanitarian crises for the first time. In addition to the above, a post suggested ways to layout research to ensure upscaling of innovations in and from humanitarian crises.

How do we make WHO more powerful and more independent?, how do we take disasters more seriously?, and how do we make disaster risk reduction and climate change not be seen as separate challenges anymore? Three posts made us think in a new direction.

When we are surrounded by a wide range of sufferings, how do we know whose suffering is the most important? Is there one more important than the other? And how do we address the inhumanity of the forced displacement of its victims? Two post from this selection made us reflect.

A post on decolonization opened a new direction for the humanitarian system to look at itself through the lens of racism and another post tells us how we can understand nature-security nexus in the rapidly changing landscape of the UN.

Sexual abuse and exploitation in the humanitarian sector must stop

4th – 11th  October

This week’s blogs brought sexual abuse and exploitation in the humanitarian aid sector to the forefront. One explained the claims of sexual abuse and exploitation against World Health Organization workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Another post talked about cycles of impunity, while a final one offers measures on addressing the problem.

Afghanistan was also high in the debates these days. Here we brought a post on how Afghan women and girls are at increased risk of being further marginalised, and how the West and the Taliban can find common ground on aid.

COVID-19 was still present with a post on how vaccine mandates can end up perpetuating colonial pitfalls.

Changing topics, reflections on the impact of cutting fundings for Neglected Tropical Diseases and the role reforms agendas of European NGOs. Finally, technology keeps coming back, this time with a post on satellite technology for humanitarian crises.


Humanitarian effects of conflict and inequality

27th September – 3rd October

This week we had posts on food systems and on conflict. The first global food systems summit left civil society and grassroots movements disappointed and fearing that corporate interests will continue to dominate. Blog posts on conflict highlighted the effects on children, and what can be done, as well as the impact on mental health more generally – which is rarely addressed.  A post on Yemen shared experience of an Al Qaeda occupation and draw parallels with present-day Afghanistan.

We also had posts on familiar topics of migration and the Covid pandemic. The former focus on the increasingy hostile environment in Europe, including detention, surveillance, and pushbacks. On the pandemic, we had a post on corruption in Covid relief in Uganda but also positive examples of how social protection programmes prevented the worst economic effects.



Containment, data and human rights

20th – 26th September

This week we had a number of blogs on policies of containment and their humanitarian consequences. Refugees are stuck on the Poland-Belarus border as part of a political stand-off but people are dying as a consequence. EU policies to stop migration are turning the Middle East into region of mass containment, but – as another blog argued – containment strategies do not stop migration.  Instead they increase the risk for those fleeing conflict.  We also had a positive blog on Uganda about taking in Afghan refugees in transit to the US and why it was important to do so: solidarity with refugees and their contribution to society.

Other topics this week were research methods, digital technologies, the use of data and its links to localisation. Sharing data with donors may pose risks, and not sharing it with local partners prevents the shift in power needed for localisation.

Finally, despite successes in addressing the pandemic in the West, it continues elsewhere in the world – where people continue to die. A blog from Nigeria highlighted the importance of monitoring abuses of power in enforcing lockdowns and other Covid prevention measures.


New challenges for the humanitarian system

13th – 19th September

This week, new challenges emerge in the humanitarian landscape as humanitarians focus their attention on the United National General Assembly. Some of these challenges were now visible due to the “withdrawal” of USA from Afghanistan.

The exodus of a large number of Afghans from their country leads to uncertainty, and migration in Afghanistan offered a view on what can be called cascading uncertainties, a blog pointed out to those shaping the humanitarian system around and beyond Afghanistan.

A New Humanitarianism is needed to address food insecurity to the UN’s own future, as it was well argued by Eric Readily in Migration publication. Over the past three decades, the humanitarian system has not been able to find a new and diverse way of hosting refugees, another blog argued. The International Crisis Group lists ten challenges faced by the UN to help the humanitarians start re-thinking about the humanitarian system in more focused ways.

Another blog raised pertinent questions about the implications of all the weapons that have been left behind by the withdrawing army. What happens when the entire armed forces of a country implodes within weeks? What can the humanitarian system offer in terms of physical security and the right to a safe life to the victims of this protracted crisis?

Beyond Afghanistan, there are similar or more serious places of concern appearing in the humanitarian system at large, such as three blogs suggest in Ethiopia, Mali, and Lebanon.

Are migration or famine the only options for crisis-affected populations?

6th – 12th September

This week migration, displacement and famine dominated our selection. Topics included the need for many Afghans to use smugglers to get to Turkey and that UK deterrence tactics will not stop migration but push people into more precarious situations. The increasing use of biometrics to control migration was another. For many Afghans left behind, the risk of food crisis or famine is increasing by the day. In Yemen, it is already there: war strategies deliberately create starvation.

We also had a couple of posts on teaching and research that are relevant to humanitarian studies. One argues that zoom teaching has led to self-censorship because of the risk of surveillance. On research, so-called local researchers are still not considered equal in terms of remuneration or the risks they face compared to international ones. This also relates to one more blog on Afghanistan, which argues that international aid actually did little or nothing to support women leaders or human rights activists.

Will donations be enough during these  unfolding crises?

30th of August – 5th September

This week continued to present different views on Afghanistan. One blog in Spanish provided an overview of the possible future of Afghanistan with the Taliban in power. Other posts asked if the Taliban’s takeover will lead to a new refugee crisis, and another reflected on the nature of violence during armed conflict to protect refugees.

On other unfolding crises, one post in Spanish reflected on the lack of preparation of Haiti and another problematises Italy’s re-bordering policies in pandemic times.

The question of whether donations will be affected or sufficient considering these multiple unfolding crises was presented in another blog. The purpose of using biometrics in the aid sector and reflections on how racism is structural within aid brought the ethical points of view to this week’s selection.

Finally, two posts reflected about research: One on the do’s and don’ts of researching in conflict zones and another about the gap between researchers from the global north and global south, or “Donor-Researchers” and “Recipient-Researchers” as presented in the post.


Power and diversity in the humanitarian field

23rd – 29th of August

Afghanistan still preoccupied this week’s blog selection with a review of 20 year research into the country and another post on how the situation evolved  to where we are now. Also an interesting discussion of the possible dangers of digitalidentification when power shifts hands.

Yet, our attention turned to other parts of the world as well. Two posts included, were written about the sad commemoration of four years of the Rohingya crisis, talking about the despair of Rohingya’s and an advocacy piece to recognize the crisis as a genocide. There are also posts about how successful (or not) refugeepolicies in Uganda are.

And we had some interesting blogs about the inner working of humanitarianismwith regards to power and diversity. A compelling story about knowledge production and the role of local researchers that have been collected in the Bukavu blogs; surprising outcomes of a survey among humanitarians about localization; and a strong argument for diversity in humanitarian negotiation.

Reconsidering humanitarian neutrality and advocacy

16th – 22nd of August

After a week where the situation in Afghanistan filled every headline and news space, we hadfocused our blog selection on debates that emerged about the language used in Western media and by humanitarians about women’s rights in the country. While major concerns were raised on the fate of women under a renewed Taliban regime, other voices cautioned against the use of international interventions on behalf of women as their positive impact – if any – may not outweigh their costs in human life and otherwise.

Similar questions were raised in two posts about interventions in Haiti. These debates raised questions that are pertinent for humanitarians, and a post by Sean Healy explores if and how humanitarians can still use neutrality as a guiding principle and how possibly to renew its meaning, in the face of gross injustice.

The theme of humanitarian advocacy was continued in a post on support needed for the vital work of local humanitarian negotiators that seek to advocate for the protection of vulnerable people in the ongoing pandemic. Another ongoing issue is the response of humanitarians to climate change, with attention to heatwaves – focusing on India – and bush fires in Algeria.


Our selection: 20 blog posts from the last 4 weeks

11th of July – 15th of August

As the humanitarian community looked at Afghanistan with suspended breath, this week we presented a wider selection than usual, with a compilation of twenty blog posts from the previous month.

Afghanistan attracted worrying attention, either because of the inhumane withdrawal of those fleeing the country or because of who and how it will offer temporary protection to Afghan refugees. Some posts told us how we all knew that the victory of the Taliban was inevitable when money was taken as a primary weapon for nation building in Afghanistan. And one post outlined the need for a change in the international refugee protection regime, while another one “mocked” about its impartiality in the current context.

Small island states are moving towards localization of humanitarian response, a post explains, while another post demands to retain localization results achieved during Covid-19 response. And what do we actually know about localization worldwide? Or for that matter why do we seek and get satisfied with a single humanitarian narrative when we know that no single narrative is fully accurate, or offer the depth of humanitarian crisis and its reasons?, a post questions.

Humanitarian studies and actions are overheated with the situation in Yemen, experiments with humanitarian biometrics, migration  and asylum in Europe.

The rise of private and for-profit armed outfits replacing armies in various conflicts are changing the nature of the humanitarian context today. This dilemma was addressed in a post on open data and its use (or abuse) in the humanitarian system. The role of drones in  the humanitarian sector is leading us to distrust both the data as well as the decisions. And for that matter, is the sector using research evidence in making decisions? An interesting post raises the question.

De-colonizing of humanitarian aid arguments are still gaining ground as a blog opened a floodgate of ideas for local NGOs going national without “re-colonizing” aid.

The past month showed us that humanitarian action or studies cannot be a passive practice that emanates from the calm of INGO, UN headquarters or a university campus anymore.

The role of humanitarian actors as diplomats

5th – 11th of July

This week’s selection started with a blog debating the role of humanitarian actors as diplomats. Two blogs reflect on the role of trust at the interface of policy and research, with one of them being a follow up on what that means for NGOs.

Gender issues were addressed with a blog on the need for a global treaty on gender-based violence and another, in Spanish, on migrant women in Colombia. Ethiopia’s crisis was addressed with a call to start with its rhetoric to de-escalate the war and a blog highlighting the colonial legacies and global power structures in Ethiopia’s famine.

Two blogs reflected on disasters. One on climate change and humanitarian shelter,and the other on strategies to reduce disaster risk in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Finally, regarding humanitarian studies, one blog shared learnings about the future of fieldwork, and another presented how a comic strip can innovatively communicate research.


Ceasefires, war crimes, and political transitions

27th June – 4th of July

This week’s selection had several contributions on the politics of technology and why we need an active involvement of humanitarian practitioners on these matters. There were posts on the abuse of personal biodata in Myanmar, and on civilian harm during military cyber operations. There was also an article on the pivotal importance of the use of language for localisation and the need for the Grand Bargain actors to take inclusion more seriously. Voices are represented from the midst of violence in Palestine and from Afghanistan on people’s fear that military withdrawal will lead to isolation and neglect. Finally: the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2021 from Development Initiatives was out!

The Politics of Technology for Humanitarian Aid

21st – 27th June

This week’s selection had several contributions on the politics of technology and why we need an active involvement of humanitarian practitioners on these matters. There were posts on the abuse of personal biodata in Myanmar, and on civilian harm during military cyber operations. There was also an article on the pivotal importance of the use of language for localisation and the need for the Grand Bargain actors to take inclusion more seriously. Voices are represented from the midst of violence in Palestine and from Afghanistan on people’s fear that military withdrawal will lead to isolation and neglect. Finally: the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2021 from Development Initiatives was out!

Reflections on World Refugee Day

14th – 20th June

June 20 was International Refugee Day and this week’s selection reflected on this concern, with several articles about the ways in which the UK, France and more broadly Europe make it increasingly complicated for refugees to reach a safe space or get a fair asylum procedure. Articles on the Grand Bargain and accountability to affected people focus on humanitarian action and there is an article for humanitarian studies on ethics of research on displaced populations.

How Europe´s policies keep fuelling a humanitarian crisis

7th – 13th June

This week we hada wide selection of blog posts, from local to global, individual to institutional, and First to Third World views.

We had a blog on cascading or co-located disasters in Honduras and a woman’s journey through atrocities in China; we had a blog on
how Europe’s policies fueling humanitarian crisis to the changing role of refugee regime in Southern Africa; and we had two exploratory blogs, one reflecting on teaching African development at LSE and other how the state-civil society action can save environment from armed conflict impact. We also included a post on the story of the beating of a young man in Ventimiglia, an Italian detention centre for illegalised foreigners.

Another interesting post reflected on what is now being reported in terms of virtual civil society in China and its response to COVID 19.

What is the fate and transformation of international development research in the time of COVID 19? And are women the solution to violent extremism? A selection of three blogs offered new directions for thinking ahead as focus on the role of China in the origins of the pandemic and interest in feminist futures expand.

As the ways are found to deal with the Second Wave of the pandemic other equally and more important ideas and insights are surfacing in the humanitarian blogspace.

The use of technology and data in humanitarian action

31th May – 6th June

This week’s selection covered a diversity of topics. On the localisation and decolonisation agendas, one post promoted cultural diversity and the other the importance of rethink knowledge production. The use of technology in humanitarian action is discussed by promoting its use for inclusive risk reduction, and the need for the United Nations to start regulating artificial intelligence. Also on technology, we brought to your attention the webinar ‘The Politics of Digital Humanitarianism’ to be held on June 25th.

In terms of conflict analysis, one blog reflected on conflict sensitivity in South Sudan, while the other advocated for the UN’s “responsibility to protect” Palestinians. This week, the ICRC series on war, law, and the environment bring one post discussing the protection of the environment during conflict in light of the IHL and the Islamic law and other environmental data for decision-making. The COVID-19 pandemic keeps showing its many facets, and this week a blog examined the difficulties of international seafarers caught by travel restrictions.

Finally, we had two Spanish pieces: One discussed Colombia’s protests, and the other promoted a new report on human mobility due to climate change and disasters in Latin America.


Politics, humanitarianism and migration

24th – 30th May

This week’s selection revisits a range of migration and refugee themes.  They highlight the importance of applying refugee law to climate change and disaster contexts, of considering environmental risks in conflict situations, and the ongoing humanitarian consequences of bombarding people in Gaza. A new special issue on ‘Politics, humanitarianism, and migration to Europe’, based on contributions to the 2018 IHSA conference, analyses the humanitarian consequences of Europe’s asylum and migration practices and the humanitarian responses of multiple different actors. A blog on secret detention and deportation centres in Greece shows the crisis for asylum seekers continues.

Finally, we feature the lack of real progress on participation in humanitarian action, and that we should be looking toward country-based civil society actors for reform rather than to international organisations.

Everyday politics of humanitarian action

17th – 23rd May

This week’s selection opened with a post on the newly agreed Charter the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations. It also had several posts about everyday politics of humanitarian action: the mishap in budget cuts in the UK, the nuts and bolts of advocacy in fragile contexts, the tacky aspects of evaluations, deeper analysis of COVID-19 statistics, digital protection, and the contradictions between decentralizing INGOs through country offices and decolonisation of aid.

Three blogs on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, chosen from among dozens of blogs that appeared this week, addressed how a response can be balanced yet acknowledge the very uneven level of aggression, implicitly challenging the humanitarian notion of neutrality.

Local accounts on the effect of Covid-19 in rural areas

10th – 16th May

This week’s blogs brought COVID-19 to the forefront again. One post presented the current pandemic as a global humanitarian emergency, and two presented local accounts of the effect of COVID-19 in rural Zimbabwe and Myanmar. Financing and donors are also highlighted. One post presented the implications for aid when donors agendas and actions contradict each other, another discusses the new tax guidelines for government-to-government aid projects, and a post that shares what to consider when evaluating cash assistance. Regarding the nexus approach, one post presented research results on why transformational change is needed to advance with this agenda.

Finally, we had two blog post addressing current crises on the planet: One in Spanish, reflecting on the manifestations in Colombia, and another discussed the ‘right to self-defence’ in light of the attacks in Gaza.

The need of a contextual understanding in humanitarian missions

3rd – 9th May

This week’s selection of blog posts offered some of the missing pieces for a more comprehensive account of today’s humanitarian crises. For example, Mathew Foley offered a retrospective look at the realities of people caught up in a humanitarian crisis, and Dorothea Hilhorst provocatively questioned the ritualization of accountability in humanitarian action.

Host countries are backtracking on their commitments to humanitarian minorities, as India is becoming less hospitable to refugees, or Scandinavia to Syrian refugees, or The Netherlands to Filipinos during COVID 19.

We also included a blog which proposes a new way of looking at hunger in the context of conflict, while another blog on South Sudan offered an analysis of the encounter between justice and hunger in a humanitarian crisis. Another blog on humanitarian missions highlighted the fact that without a contextual understanding of the humanitarianism of social action, critical humanitarian learning and humanitarian thinking remain distant.

Finally, we included one blog post in Spanish about the current humanitarian crisis in Colombia.


Covid and the failure of global solidarity

26th April -2nd May

More than one year into the Covid pandemic, our selection this week had a number of reflections. The pandemic did not lead, as initially thought, to an outbreak of global solidarity. With India going through a deadly second wave, and vaccine nationalism in the West, inequality is more evident than ever. Locally, the pandemic has led to innovation, but others highlight ongoing global inequalities in organisations funded for public health programmes. Market-based approaches to health care in India and dependence on food imports in the Philipines have made the effects of the pandemic worse.

We also featured blogs on conflict, how peace agreements often fail to reduce violence, Yemen’s ceasefire agreements, and on the specifics of urban warfare. Finally, a blog about how complaints mechanisms for crisis-affected populations are still too Western-centric.

The need to decolonise aid, now

19th-25th April

This week’s selection included interesting articles on the recurring theme of the need to decolonise aid.  One of them was the eye-opening article on how Maslow’s scheme of needs, which is often taken for granted, is a display of supremacy.

And, of course, continued attention to COVID-19: the terrible spike in infections in India and more on the politics of vaccination.

Two articles on the migration regimes of the UK and the US were reminders of the increasingly harsh and xenophobic anti-immigration policies as the main drivers of the humanitarian crisis.

Bigger and better innovations for localisation

12th-18th April

As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and its new variants spread and rised across India, we had a selection of humanitarian studies blogs that made us painfully aware of the stress, anxiety, and worries associated with such a humanitarian crisis.

The pandemic coincided with floods and landslides in Timor-Leste,  exposed the flaws in food and farming systems in Nigeria, raised demand for more aid accountability in South Sudan, and is testing commitment to global racial equity. All these considerations raised the need for rethinking humanitarian manifold.

This collection of blog posts highlighted several themes including the rare interplay of humanitarian resistance and military authorities; search for better and bigger innovations for localisation; and the optimism offered by the rise in global aid in 2020 tempered with the system wide stress of the pandemic.

Other themes covered include, the forward looking yet not known use of artificial intelligence to improve humanitarian management, and the urgent need for a humanitarian care at the top levels of the UN: which will invariably shape how the future of global humanitarianism unfolds

A year of IHSA´s weekly blog post selection

5th-11th April

This week, we celebrated a year of IHSA´s blog post selection! To commemorate, Tobias Denskus from  Aidnography, shared some words on curating humanitarian content and the limits of virtual knowledge repositories.

As the Syrian war has been going for over a decade by now, we selected three blogs post on this conflict. One on why refugees find it tough to return, and two on violence against healthcare, on the difficulties of documenting these events and the lack of accountability on them.

From Kenya, one post addressed the impact of funding cuts of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and another the plans for the closure of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps. Two blog posts addressed the politics of aid, one on the role of rumours and misinformation during crises and another on how neo-colonial aid is. Finally, while one post discussed humanitarian operations’ digital transformation and the duty to integrity, another took off to discuss outer-space humanitarianism.

Actions to prevent conflict and famine

29th March-4th April

This week conflict featured largely in our selection. Contributions on Yemen and Myanmar highlighted that to prevent severe famine and end war crimes we need to stop arms sales or use targeted sanctions against military companies. Other posts focused on analysis and information. Much is known about the role of land tenure in conflict but little of this knowledge is included in conflict analysis tools.  How social media can spread misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, in situations of conflict needs much more attention as it has the potential to exacerbate conflict. Finally, we included blog posts on the Rwandan refugee crisis of 1997 – which asks whether this was in fact another genocide – and on the need to prepare cities for the impact of migration.


When there was no aid

15th-21st March

In this weekly selection two contributions on the impact of aid with a review on a challenging book on how Somaliland has done better without aid, and an article on how the UK seems to undo its achievement of previous decades.

While the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating, it remained important to protect the Rohingya that have fled the country and previous years, as you will find in a overview article on how Rohingya rights continue to be denied and how this crisis continues to fester. And more on the politics of vaccination, upholding social protection amidst conflict in Tigray, a view from India on climate refugees, and an update of fantastic research work on emerging agency in times of COVID-19.

Who does and should speak for aid and how?

8th-14th March

Criticality of the commons in humanitarian studies or action is yet not addressed as in this week’s selection we found voices calling for more gender balance, equality, who does and should speak for aid and how public authority sees NGOs and INGOs. May it be farmers or refugees without rights, or citizens of Myanmar, all need a place or space that is free and open to all, always.

Perhaps the increasing multiple and simultaneous crisis of humanitarian action are evidence of the neglect of the commons? It is in this void that the European Union has come up with a 60% rise in aid and the idea of blended finance for ODAhas surfaced, however caution is also raised for “charity washing”.

How OCHA´s new Head should be picked

1st-7th March

This week’s selection featured a diversity of topics. Two blog posts discussed the decolonisation of humanitarian aid, from the contribution of doing a PhD to examples from an NGO in India. Similarly, the localisation agendas discussed with examples from Kenya and the role of citizen aid.

In times of COVID-19, three blog post discussed the increased risk of adolescent girls in crisis settings, the role of migrant workers, and the challenges to tackle climate disasters.

Regarding aid’s political and economic issues, it is discussed the advances of cashless cash, the presence of massive funds from unknown donors to alleviate hunger in Yemen, and lessons learnt from Sudan’s food aid. Finally, two blogs discussed the process of how the new head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has to be chosen


The political crisis in Somalia

22nd-28th February

This week we started with climate change; one piece on the possibility of local and low-cost solutions to help with early warning of floods. Another about the importance of understanding politics and power when analysing vulnerability to climate change.

Somalia was another key topic. Analysts expressed concern about the protests and violence in Mogadishu last week arising from the failure to have elections. We also highlighted Darfur where sexual violence is ongoing, and where women lack access to justice and political representation.

Finally, we had an opinion on the need to analyse cash transfer programmes more critically, in particular the power gained by payment service providers, which linked nicely to a blog on how little decision-making in the humanitarian system is based on evidence.

How aid should change away from its old philanthropical roots

Selection#45 (15th-21st February)

This week’s blog selection had several articles that continued the discussion of how aid should change away from its old philanthropical roots. 

There was also attention for the situation in Myanmar and the dilemma that aid agencies are facing in whether or not to continue their involvement in the country after the coup. An article on the contribution of grassroots organisations in peace building processes is highly relevant in view of the nexus between humanitarianism and peace building, and there was a review of the global compact for migration.

Finally, we drew your attention to an article about climate change-related displacement in Central America.

Improving the humanitarian system in the long term

Selection#44 (8th-14th February)

This week, we started the selection looking at how COVID-19 leads to additional hunger to some of the larger and key concerns of humanitarian system.

We looked at promising blogs on current affairs: The first was a personal reflection on the on-going conflict in the Tigray region and our failure to define the scale of this humanitarian crisis, and the other included a look at the heart wrenching conditions of Rohingya’s crisis as the coup unfolds.

Several blogs focused on sharing ideas to improving the humanitarian system in the long term. For example, a blog about embracing transparencies at charities, another on development finance for economy recovery in the Sub-Saharan region and an op-ed about the need for the Global North to start recognizing disaster displacement as an on-going issue that affects themselves.

The challenges facing humanitarianism today

Selection#43 (1st-7th February)

This week we focused on the challenges facing humanitarianism today. Issues include the effect of Covid-19 for conflict-affected indigenous populations in the Brazilian Amazon, and the consequences of Myanmar’s military coup for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

To address some challenges in humanitarian action, one blog post suggests more bureaucracy, for example to deal with sexual misconduct, the politicisation of resource allocation, or corruption. Another post presents practical ways in which climate change adaptation in Bangladesh can also tackle corruption.

Finally, other articles focused on specific topics such as the role that Covid-19 might have in fostering necessary changes in the humanitarian aid sector, how researchers can focus more on internal displacement, or how the political use of the well-known Build Back Better concept can carry Western neoliberal agendas and ideas.


Challenges and risks for refugees and returnees

Selection#42 (25th-31st January)

Most of our selection this week focused on refugees and return. A key topic was the global compact on refugees, and on migration – can they address forced migration due to climate change? Others were the need for economic support by labour migrants returning to Sri Lanka during the pandemic, and the ongoing risks faced by the Rohinga in Bangladesh. Issues in the West are the halting of refugee resettlement, and the new EU migration and asylum pact which continues trends of border closures and returns.

Two posts drew attention to the need for US President Biden to reverse Trump’s policies that constrict aid, because it risks famine or crisis in Yemen, and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Finally, we selected ODI’s post on the need for a humanitarian reset and what this would entail.


The impact of Global North´s decisions on aid and Covid-19

Selection#41 (18th-24th January)

For the first time in our selection, most blog posts focused on the global North; including Covid-19 vaccination strategies, aid policy and migration management. Western national interests may determine availability of Covid-19 vaccines for others, while at the same time the West can learn from east Asia on how to deal with pandemics.

Aid policy issues included the challenges of the Biden administration to transform the United States aid policy, and the role of international organisations in localisation. 

Other posts highlighted the heightened risks faced by Nigerian refugee women in Italy, the failure to address migration to the US, and the scandal of the food crisis in the UK.

The politics of Covid-19 strategies

Selection#40 (11th-17th January)

This week we had blog posts on a wide range of topics.  The politics of Covid strategies was one; who gets the vaccine, and how to get messages across when mistrust in government is high.  Innovation and technology were relatively new topics this week; with the selection including a blog on the obstacles of innovation in humanitarian programmes, and the dangers of misuse of biometrics. More regular themes included localisation and decolonisation: arguing that decolonisation discussions are frequently western-centric and that corruption can be seen as an excuse for not localising aid.

Finally, we had a number of posts on refugees; on flaws in the refugee compact, the crisis amongst asylum-seekers in the Balkans and the need for long-term solutions.

Historical views on crises in Afganistan provide lessons for today

Selection#39 (4th-10th January)

While humanitarian action is often characterised by short-term activity, it is considered important to take a long-term, historical view on its environment. Two of this weeks’ blogs took such a historical view at the different crises in Afghanistan.

Other opinions continued to come in about the proposed new EU pact on migration and asylum, and we have included two of them.This week we also included two publications in Spanish from IECAH´s report on humanitarian action in 2019-20. Other pieces are about ongoing crises, including a piece by Tanya Müller about the impact of ending the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

Last selection of 2020: the pandemic and other crises

Selection#38 (14th December – 3rd January)

The selection of humanitarian blog posts #38 was the last with posts from 2020, a year dominated by Covid-19. Humanitarian reflections on the pandemic included its interactions with politics and other crises, its disproportionate impact on marginalised populations, and changes in aid practices – including the need to decolonise humanitarian studies. We continued with these topics in this week’s selection. But not all crises in 2020 were related to Covid-19 (read more).  We also covered the effects of climate change, locust outbreaks, the Tigray war, and protracted conflicts in many parts of the world.

We started 2021 with hopes of a better year for humanity and will continue our selection of opinions and analysis of humanitarian crises as they happen.



Needed shifts in global issues of humanitarianism

Selection#36 (7th -13th of December)

This week several articles focused on global issues of humanitarianism, such as how Covid-19 should repurpose humanitarian bureaucracies. There was also an independent review of individual donor assessments, a blog on the concentration of resources by donors, and a sharp commentary on how narratives of poverty reinforce global inequalities. 

Other articles focused on specific topics such as the Tigray War, the effects of the Third Geneva Convention on women prisoners of war, and how gender equality initiatives spearheaded by NGOs have suffered since the pandemic outbreak.

Coping with Covid-19 in a warming world

Selection#36 (30th of November – 6th of December)

This week we featured climate change; in particular the need to monitor rising temperatures and its effects and how grass-roots groups working on climate change mobilised to address Covid. Our selection also included a long-term look at climate change from Bolivia.

We continued with the theme of localisation and decolonisation with opinions on widely ranging topics; from the need to recognise the knowledge of African scholars on African politics in academia, to the role of local actors in cash transfer and voucher programmes.

Finally, we had a couple of posts on migration: on the fate of migrants in India during the pandemic and the dehumanising conditions in the UK’s migration detention centres, showing that the risks faced by migrants, asylum seekers and refugees during the pandemic truly spans the north-south divide.


Uncovering the humanitarian issues with the Covid-19 vaccine

Selection#35 (23rd – 29th November)

This week we highlighted humanitarian issues with the Covid-19 vaccine: the potential inequalities in access between the wealthy West and others.  Following previous weeks, we continued with a number of posts on Ethiopia, stressing the potential for war crimes, covering the communal dimension of the conflict, and the lessons that can be learnt from the Rohinga crisis. Other opinions focused on Afghanistan, on the need for donor support in the transition to peace, and on how MSF aid workers are taking increasing risks.  Finally, aid workers continue to advocate for localisation, this time with some examples from the Pacific, and we have a new topic on the use of symbols to mark humanitarian presence.

The humanitarian consequences of the unfolding crisis in Ethiopia

Selection#34 (16th – 22nd November)

This week, our selection focused on the unfolding crisis in Ethiopia and its humanitarian consequences. While some posts seeked to explain the causes of the crisis, others focused on the consequences it is having on both refugees and the populations of the region.

Other opinions continued to draw attention to the situation in Moria and critically engage with the implications of the Nobel Peace Prize for the World Food Program. As in previous weeks, an article on why the Black Lives Matter movement should make us rethink humanitarian aid, and it’s future.

At the end of this week’s selection, we feature IHSA´s documentary database and helpful reports and resources from Médecins sans frontières´crash, IFRC, and the trumanitarian.org podcasts.

Promoting equality in aid practices

Selection#33 (9th – 15th November)

This week our selection focused on aid practices. There were suggestions for promoting greater equality between international and local organisations, on the use (and misuse) of data, and on not forgetting other diseases during the Covid pandemic– like malaria.  We had a series of opinions on the future of aidand a discussion on the range of civil society responses to the pandemic. We also highlighted the bias towards authors and institutions from the global north in academic publishing on forced migration.

Direct Covid-related posts continued on its political effects, in strengthening authoritarian governments, the effect of lockdowns in exacerbating hunger, and on the restriction of  refugee services. Finally, we also had a video this week on how to use our IHSA members expertise map.

The impact of Covid-19 and conflict in Africa

Selection#32 (2nd – 8th November)

This week most of our blog posts were related to African countries. They tackled the combined impact of Covid-19 with conflict, displacement, and disasters, and how to research it remotely. Covid-19 increases the severity of humanitarian crises and can be used to undermine political opposition. Others wrote about the importance of understanding the functions of conflict, and of elite manipulation of aid, oil and gas resources in Somalia.

The refugee theme continued with a post on how the pandemic is used to undermine international obligations. Aid policy issues feature again too. This time on UN impunity following the Haiti cholera scandal and on whether INGOs can adapt to a changing world. Finally, we also included a video this week on how to use the new IHSA´s blog and blog post database.


Recent trends in humanitarian thinking – 30 weeks of our weekly selection

Selection#31 (26th October – 1st November)

This week we celebrated more than 30 weeks of selecting humanitarian blog posts! As part of this week’s selection, you will find a post with our reflections on the trends in humanitarian thinking over the past 7 months.  Post-Covid, we have seen new thinking on how different crises interact, and on the need to address racism in humanitarian action. We have also seen how migrants, displaced and refugee populations have been disproportionately affected.  
This week’s selection continued on these themes, with a post on the need for reforming the aid system, the impact of Covid on farmers and the risks faced by refugees in the UK.  We also had new topics of gender-based violence, women and peace, and education in conflict.

We are excited to have so many devoted readers.  In the coming weeks, we hope you will continue to read and contribute.  We also hope you will explore the IHSA website.  To help you, we will be presenting new features on the website, one each week for the following 4 weeks. This week, we highlight a video on how to search on our new database on humanitarian studies related organisations.

Trends in humanitarian thinking

Increasing challenges for humanitarianism in the midst of multiple crises

Selection#30 (19th-25th October)

This week we remained focused on aid policy and practice, in particular humanitarian ethics, diplomacy, and negotiations. Changes in technology, new actors, and contexts (Covid-19, climate change, the rise of authoritarian regimes, anti-migrant, and refugee policies in the West) all pose challenges to humanitarianism.

This week’s blog posts also continued with learning about the effects of Covid responses: the dangers of neglecting the prevention of other diseases, of focussing on health rather than economy, and the fear that Covid has undermined democracy in many countries in the world.

On a more positive note, they also featured the rapid and effective response to contain the virus in many African countries.

Aid policy and practice in the wake of Covid-19

Selection#29 (11th-18th October)

This week we returned to blog posts on aid policy in the wake of Covid-19. Topics included Uganda’s successes, how women are disproportionately affected, and addressing the effect on hunger and food insecurity. A UN Food Systems Summit which focuses on private sector engagement and sidelines civil society raises concern. The need to reconsider state fragility, and north-south comparisons, in light of the pandemic is also important, while in Yemen, the combination of war, floods, and Covid-19 is contributing to an ever-worsening crisis.

Other blog posts continued to raise the human rights violations resulting from migrant deterrence strategies of the EU and the US. Non-Covid blogs this week included the fragility of Sudan’s peace agreement and the politics of aid in Somalia.

Can the Worl Food Programme´s Nobel Peace Prize build peace?

Selection#28 (4th-11th October)

This week we featured the Nobel committee awarding the Peace Prize to the World Food Programme. This is good because it draws attention to war as a cause of hunger and to the importance of multilateralism.  It also raises concerns because food aid is highly political and even if WFP and technical interventions can alleviate hunger, they cannot build peace.

We also highlighted the plight of refugees in Europe, the need for a migrant justice movement, and for protection back home. Solidarity between private citizens and refugees can be a key factor in response, as in the Rohingya response in Bangladesh.

We also had a couple of posts on Covid; on the positive role that traditional beliefs and practices can play, but also how Covid responses can be manipulated to gain power. Finally, a commentary from Sri Lanka that America’s crisis is already there.

The new EU pact on migration: continued risks of human rights abuse

Selection#27 (28th September – 4th October)

This week we featured the new EU pact on migration. Most opinion pieces criticized the new pact: the new pre-entry screening seems more concerned with strengthening controls at external borders and with returning many people as quickly as possible, than with asylum. The pact does not say where people will stay during the screening process; it could be closed detention centres. The risks of violating human rights are enormous. Other blog posts and reviews comment on the difficulties in developing a common EU strategy, but also the possibility of creating a smaller coalition of willing states and people.

We also highlighted the resumption of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the drying up of Lake Chad. Finally, we drew attention to the humanitarian policy issues posed by aid as a business, the ethics of humanitarian negotiations, and the increased use of digital data.


An online UN General Assembly during Covid-19 times

Selection#26 (21st-27th September)

This week we highlighted blog posts on the UN General Assembly. They drew attention to the enormous challenges because of multiple crises and also increasing bilateralism. An online Zoom UN General Assembly would only consist of speeches with little debate and no informal discussion, making joint resolutions less likely. A Spanish blog post reflected on the ineffectiveness of the UN’s world peace day by looking at the increase in conflicts.

Related to Covid-19, we featured its impact on NGOs and suggestions on how they could survive, and how it has led to a rethinking of academic practices. Topics we returned to this week included the impact of Covid-19 on diaspora and remittances, the risks of cash transfers (because of increasing indebtedness), and the need for protection of migrants and refugees even – or especially – in times of Covid-19.

Humanitarian crises globally: from Lesbos to Beirut, Lima, Caracas and Mumbai

Selection#25 (14th-20th September)

This week we featured blog posts on Moria refugee camp fire in Lesbos and Lebanon’s crisis following the explosions. Key messages on Moria were that the fires were a result of EU policies of deterrence and externalisation rather than the criminality of refugees.

All refugees – including men – are vulnerable and need their asylum claims to be heard.

The explosions in Lebanon expose a political crisis, a potential for aid to support a political elite, and a failure in lessons learnt.

Meanwhile in Uganda, the government  suspended hundreds of aid agencies which will affect refugee assistance, and in Syria the triple nexus is exposed as a myth.

Peace-keeping and human rights monitoring were also featured this week, with the reduction in peace-keeping highlighting the lack of agreement between global powers on responsibility for maintaining peace, with potentially damaging consequences.

Finally, once again, blog posts in Spanish highlighted the critical situation of Venezuelans both in their home country and abroad.

Covid-19 impacts in India, refugees at risk and more

Selection#24 (7th-13th September)

This week we had a number of blog posts on India, which focused on disaster preparedness, the marginalisation of migrants and refugees (especially with Covid) and the threat Covid measures pose to civil society.

Refugees also featured because of the risks posed by global governance failures, and how ideas of wellness can be part of social support measures.

This week’s posts highlight a number of aid policy issues.  These include the politics of recovery interventions in the midst of conflict, how unconditional cash transfers actually encourage specific expenditure and relationships, and how fundraising often determines international agency actions at the start of crisis. Also how even in the pandemic monitoring and evaluation is more than reporting.

Rethinking aid: the importance of women’s networks and global justice

Selection#23 (31st of August – 6th September)

This week’s blog posts returned to the need for changing the way we provide aid. 

Themes included the need to support local organisations, including women’s networks, and for global solidarity and justice rather than development. Other Covid-19 issues this week included its impact on state-building in Somalia, lessons learnt from previous health crises (in a short video by Groupe URD), and violence against children. How Covid-19 has led to anti migrant actions and downgrading of human rights remains a theme, with both NGOs and migrants under attack in Lesbos. We also featured crises in Nigeria, Mali and Cameroon as a result of the political manipulation of resource conflict, a fragile transition to democracy, conflict and economic hardship.


Migration to Europe, pushbacks and humanitarian consequences

Selection#22 (17th to 30th of August)

This week we featured migration to Europe and the deadly consequences of actions to stop it.

The most obvious are the pushbacks from Greece, Italy, Malta, France and the UK, in response to desperate people crossing the Mediteranean or the Channel to reach safety.  The last two weeks’ posts revealeed drownings, return to countries at war, and unsafe detentions; all in contravention of International Refugee Law.  Covid-19 has made conditions worse as social distancing and hygiene measures are impossible in overcrowded camps and for the many who are forced to sleep rough. Asylum procedures have halted or slowed down.  While migration to reach safety in Europe – and the pushbacks – have a long history, the anti-migrant narrative in 2020 has hardened.

These week’s posts also highlighted how Covid worsens existing vulnerabilities and marginalisation, in countries like Sudan, Peru and India, adding to the drivers of forced migration.

The need to decolonise humanitarian studies and aid

Selection#21 (10th to 16th of August)

This week’s selection started raising attention to racism and the need to decolonise the academic world of humanitarian studies. It provided some in-depth stories on the politics of rebuilding Beirut and we saw renewed attention to questions of accountability in aid.

Other posts also reflected on the impact of Covid-19 in Latin America and how it causes setbacks in the fight against other diseases.

Finally, we also included this week a summer-watch recommendation: The Right Girls, a film that tells the story of a group of transgender women seeking asylum in the United States.

The risk of focusing all humanitarian attention on Covid-19

Selection#20 (3rd to 9th of August)

This week’s selection spoke of the concerns of practitioners that Covid-19 caught the attention to other ongoing issues, such as malaria, into the shadow. They urged donors and governments to step away from the emergency modus that exclusively centred on COVID19, and resume much-needed efforts in other domains.

Other posts also reflected on the opportunities that Covid-19 could bring to other organisations such as refugee-led organisations and civic society.

Finally, we also included this week a Summer Reading List collated by The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute that contains their most recommended books, blogs, articles, documentaries, podcasts and films.


The politics of Covid-19 humanitarian response

Selection#19 (27th July – 2nd August)

This week we return to the politics of Covid-19 humanitarian response and the economic effects of movement restrictions to stem the pandemic.
In Zimbabwe, the government has been using Covid-19 to undermine press freedom, arrest activists, and loot public funds. At the same time, border closure leads to smuggling of people, goods, and money resulting in both restricted livelihoods and increased disease transmission. In contrast, in South Korea, authoritarian Covid-19 containment measures are accepted because of a degree of government responsiveness. In poorer countries like Peru, however, chronic under-investment in health services and no safety net, a lockdown makes the population acutely vulnerable. This week’s blog posts also raise the politics of sanctions and humanitarian access in Syria and Myanmar, and the multiple rules and laws that are applied in refugee settings: national, customary, and international.

Vaccine trial ethics and dealing with detention risks in the midst of a pandemic

Selection#18 (20th to 26th of July)

This week we had blog posts on a wide range of topics related to Covid-19 and humanitarian studies. The heightened risk to particular population groups continued to be a theme, with this week’s posts highlighting the plight of indigenous Amazonian populations and of refugees in Hong Kong. Another issue raised this week was the changes in detention and prison practices with Covid-19, and what it means in terms of risk. The impact of multiple crises on populations in Yemen and Syria also remained a theme, including increased difficulties in access because of the pandemic. We also had a couple of new topics. One is on the ethics of vaccine trials in Africa and the need for close community participation to implement them. Another is the need for solidarity and equality in addressing today’s crises.

Disasters and Covid-19 as social and political phenomena

Selection#17 (13th to 19th of July)

This week we featured the #NoNaturalDisasters campaign, which asserts that disasters are not natural but social and political phenomena and affect already marginalised populations most. Many blog posts in this and previous selections revealed that Covid-19 has the same effect, whether on Somalis in the UK, Palestinians in the West Bank, religious minorities in Iraq or Venezuelan migrants in Peru. This week’s posts also highlighted how the combined effect of Covid-19 and other disasters is creating a severe food crisis. Posts on racism and humanitarian aid continued to feature on humanitarian blogs, we provided two this week, and discussions continue on how Covid-19 will fundamentally transform humanitarianism.

Borders, mobility and the impact of Covid-19 on women and youth

Selection#16 (6th to 12th of July)

This week we highlighted the issue of borders and mobility and the impact of Covid, as well as other humanitarian issues. Closure of borders, and the halting of asylum procedures, is increasing the risks for migrants and refugees on the US, Greece, and UK borders. We also had posts on food poverty amongst the Somali diaspora in Bristol, and how Covid-19 affects the difficulties in assisting mobile populations in South Sudan.  Other than its impact on mobility, we covered the disproportionate impact on women in Nigeria and the impact on youth in South Sudan.  More generally, we highlight posts on how language affects humanitarian action and on the presence of institutional racism in Medecins Sans Frontieres, and how they are addressing it.

Closed borders, disasters and Covid-19: The joint effects on forced displacement

Selection#15 (29th June to 5th of July)

This week, we returned to issues of migration and forced displacement.  Posts covered issues ranging from why it has become more difficult to claim asylum, to increased displacement due to Covid-19 combined with other disasters, to the risks caused by border closures, and risks associated with evicting refugees from safe accomodation in the UK. Other topics include the Security Councils endorsement, finally, of a global ceasefire and why it took so long, and the localisation of food systems in response to Covid-19. Issues of racism and the need to decolonise humanitarianism, and how to promote inclusion, continued to be a major theme this week.


Supporting localisation and tackling corruption in aid

Selection#14 (22nd to 28th of June)

This week, for the first time, we had more blog posts on humanitarian issues generally rather than on Covid-19. These issues included: the need to support local leadership in tackling disasters and climate change, to address corruption in the aid sector, and to reform the UN.  Also highlighted were the humanitarian implications of the DFID merger with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including for Covid-impacted Africa. So Covid-related humanitarian issues were still with us.  This week’s posts also showed how government policies, determine whether and how the virus is brought under control. We included two posts that reflect on why the NorthAmerican and Brazilian central governments, have failed to contain the virus. Other blog posts urged the need to consider Covid’s impact on the ability to respond to disasters and their interaction with other crises.

World Refugee Day in a Covid-19 World – What we are reading

Selection#13 (15th to 21st of June)

In the context of the World Refugee day, this week we focused on refugees. Issues raised included the political and economic obstacles preventing long-term support for refugees, and the need for involving refugees themselves in policies that concern them.  The complexity of decision-making around returns, ensuring this is voluntary and the need for assistance to re-integrate are key themes.  The impact of Covid-19 continued to feature: not only the heightened risk faced by those living in overcrowded camps, or loss of work in lockdown, but also the use of the pandemic to increase deterrence measures and to suspend asylum and resettlement procedures in Europe and the US.  We included our most-read blog posts on refugees from previous months too.  Other topics highlighted this week included the effects of lockdown in rural India, the need for early preventive action and how rumours around Covid-19 can feed into local politics.

When Covid-19 and other crises collide and more on racism in humanitarian action

Selection#12 (8th to 14th of June)

This week our selection of blog posts presented a range of issues.  Racism in the aid sector remained a key theme: for example on the need to confront issues of ‘white supremacy’ within the aid sector, and the dangers of a new colonialism in the transfer digital data from the global South.  Other themes included the multiple crises that countries, like Sudan and Yemen, face: ongoing conflict or political instability, displacement, and economic crisis as well as Covid-19.  The impact of Covid-19 on inequality, migration and the risk of food crisis were also highlighted.  A new topic was the importance of access to water, how much poor people already pay, and the need to tackle corruption in water infrastructure projects.  Globally, it seems that countries where poverty will increase most have received proportionally less funding to address Covid-19 impacts. 

Racism in humanitarian action and the need to decolonise aid

Selection#11 (1st to 7th of June)

This week, we focused on racism in the humanitarian aid sector, and on decolonising humanitarian studies. Covid-19 has not only highlighted inequalities in societies everywhere, but also within the aid sector and in how research on humanitarian issues is done. Some of this week’s blogs were hopeful that Covid-19 would force the localisation agreed on at the Humanitarian Summit of 2016, while others were more sceptical about the ability of an essentially western aid system to change.  Issues of racism in aid were not new, as you could see from the number of older blog posts on the topic included this week.  This week’s blogs also highlighted, once again, that some African countries were better prepared to deal with the pandemic than many in the West, and the cruel treatment of migrants and refugees who have to take greater risks to reach safety when borders are closed.


The need for global cooperation in the wake of Covid19

Selection#10 (25th to 31st of June)

In this week’s selection, we had a special focus on the need for global cooperation in the wake of Covid-19, which is needed to address not only the pandemic itself but also the resulting social and economic crises. Can the actions of citizens and local actors provide an incentive? This week’s contributions also urged the Security Council to back a global ceasefire, a revival of peacekeeping, and for global cooperation on cybersecurity – in particular for health facilities. Other themes included Covid-19 impact on the already marginalised and on food security. In South America, lockdown policies resulted in a food crisis all over the continent due to unemployment and the closure of food markets. Another worry was that mobile cash transfers may exclude the most vulnerable because they do not have identity documents or internet access. We also had a number of non-Covid blogs this week: on the plight of migrants and refugees in Libya and in Jordan, and analysing the US-Taliban agreement in Afghanistan.

Covid-19: food crisis and advice for remote research

Selection#9 (18th to 24th of June)

In this week’s selection, our main themes were food crisis, the challenges of remote research, and ethical decision-making. Covid-19 lockdowns have drastically reduced some people’s income (whether from lost work or closure of markets) and their ability to access food. Many have to choose between health and hunger. It also affects the income of aid agencies, and the lack of aid leads to additional hardship. Covid often comes on top of other crises; for example locust swarms in Africa and Asia, or ongoing conflicts and displacement. Doing remote research in crises when researcher’s and participant’s mobility is limited is hard but not impossible. Qualitative enquiry is particularly difficult but no less needed in a crisis which is as much a social and medical phenomenon. Ethical issues such as consent and confidentiality remain crucial but also require new thinking. Our week’s special on remote research gave some ideas on this. 

How Covid-19 reveals inequality, corruption and human rights violations

Selection#8 (11th to 18th of June)

In this week’s selection, the main theme was how Covid-19 reveals or amplifies existing inequalities, corruption, and violations of human rights. Poor and migrant workers suffer disproportionately from the virus and lockdown measures. Refugees face greater constraints and risks in entering Europe with the pandemic and an unsafe Europe now also used as a deterrent. A couple of posts highlighted how politicians are using funds raised to address the pandemic to further their own political and economic interests. At the same time, there were some good news. It seems that many African countries were better prepared than those in the West, because of their experience in dealing with Ebola.  We also saw that solidarity networks and activism continued to increase, although in many cases also highlighting the absence of a coherent multi-lateral response.  As a special feature, we re-posted URD’s Covid Observatory which includes links to some of their publications.

Refugee roles and decisions in the Covid-19 crisis

Selection#7 (4th to 10th of May)

This week’s blog posts looked at issues of Covid-19 and refugees, migrants and returnees. They highlighted the positive role that diaspora play both in destination and origin countries, but also the difficult decisions that undocumented migrants or refugees have to make.  Do they stay without work, limited access to services, and often increased violence, or do they return home and face the stigma of being Covid carriers?  The politics of aid remained a key issue, this week including the political dimension of the bilateral provision of aid globally, the political economy and elite capture of aid contracts in Somalia, and how the language of war in describing Covid-19 responses is misleading.  In terms of response, the role of faith-based organisations or leaders was highlighted, as is the importance of locally-informed responses more generally.  As a special feature, we re-posted a selection of MSF’s CRASH, which – like this blog post selection – provided a list of key readings.

The need for a global response to Covid-19

Selection#6 (27th April to 3rd of May)

This week’s blog posts brought global issues to the forefront again.  They highlighted the need for a global response to Covid-19 rather than only national or regional ones, with richer countries not only supporting their own populations but also others, and this must go further than humanitarian aid.  Localisation remains important within such a global agenda, with refugee- or victim-led organisations taking a key role in determining their protection and assistance.  In contrast in Europe, delays and suspension of asylum procedures are increasing refugee vulnerability.  Politics was once again highlighted in responding to crisis: not only in asylum procedures but also political priorities may have led to a lack of preparedness or aid may be manipulated for political gains.  Like other forms of aid, manipulation of Covid-19 responses is a risk, whether in Europe, the US, Africa, or Asia


Local response to Covid-19 and its link with DRR mechanisms

Selection#5 (20th to 26th of April)

This week, a number of blogs highlighted the need for Covid-19 responses to be locally-specific, the role of local communities and civil society in determining and influencing responses, and the need for international support and coordination. With multilateralism struggling, the role of activism and political action is coming to the forefront in addressing humanitarian problems. Others cautioned not to take new aid delivery modes, such as digital cash transfers, too far. The need to link the Covid-19 response to existing disaster risk reduction mechanisms is highlighted, as is the need to prepare for Covid-19 related vulnerability to future disasters. The differential impact of Covid-19 on migrants and refugees, as well as the risk of economic damage and food crisis, remains a key theme in this week’s blogs.

The interaction between Covid-19 and climate change and the unequal effects of the pandemic

Selection#4 (13th to 19th of April)

This week, the posts covered both global and moral issues as well as the issues facing specific countries whether from the Covid-19 pandemic itself or the response. Key issues were the interaction between the Covid-19 and climate change, and how responses to the pandemic risk re-enforcing strategies of exclusion and containment that pose risks to migrants and refugees.  Another issue is the need for ethical programming, to deliberate on the relative impacts on health and the economy, who to treat and where, and the protection of responders. As such, the shift to remote technologies (e.g. mobile cash transfers) needs to be carefully studied, to reveal its impact on power relations as well as food security and livelihoods.  Finally, we have a number of blogs from Somalia, Uganda, Cuba, Peru, and Colombia: all of which illustrate the inequalities between countries, and the risks that ‘lockdowns’ pose for the informal sector. 

The impact of the reduction in remittance due to Covid-19

Selection#3 (6th to 12th of April)

The Covid-19 pandemic dominated blog posts on humanitarian issues.  This week, a new issue they highlighted was the reduction in remittances which may cause a humanitarian crisis for many populations in the global south; many diasporas in Europe and the US have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to illness. The risk of Covid-19 exacerbating existing inequalities, discrimination and exclusions remained a key theme; whether for refugees, displaced or migrants, as does the impact of the pandemic on already crisis-affected populations.  A couple of blogs highlighted the difficulties of delivering aid, and of doing research remotely.

The effects of India´s Covid-19 lockdown, the disproportionate impact on refugees and migrants and the importance of the localization of aid

Selection#2 (30th March to 6th of April)

This week’s posts highlighted the humanitarian crisis created by India’s sudden lockdown policy – when the poorest laborers and migrant workers streamed out of cities to walk back to their villages without any guarantee of food, shelter, or income. The fear of a disproportionate impact of the Coronavirus on refugees and migrants, and the potential for authoritarian regimes or warring parties to abuse the crisis for political gains, remained a theme this week. So did the need for good epidemiological knowledge, and the importance of learning lessons from the Ebola crisis. New themes were the importance of local participation in planning response and thus the need for speeding up the localization agenda as part of humanitarian reform.


Covid-19: different first responses, ethical implications and the risk to democracy posed by some of the extraordinary measures 

Selection#1 (23rd to 29th of March)

On our first weekly selection, we covered a range of topics, including the risks to democracy posed by the extraordinary measures taken in most countries (see Desportes), the different political responses within Europe, the ethical implications, and the need for solidarity (Muller), the effect on existing inequalities and the disproportionate effect on vulnerable people such as the homeless and the displaced, as well as their inability to adopt many of the recommended measures in the West (e.g. frequently washing hands if little access to water, or social distancing in a crowded camp or slum) (Mueller, Shankland).  Others analyzed the health versus the economic costs and consequences (Schutte, Pistor, Shankland, Yazigi, below), or provide lessons from local and national responses to health crises (Shankland), including the role of religion and the Church in facilitating and preventing the spread of the virus and in assisting the vulnerable (Lichtenstein et al).

Humanitarian blog posts selection team

This selection is managed and curated by Susanne Jaspars, Marloes Viet, and Nicolás Caso.