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.
31th May – 6th June
This week’s selection covers a diversity of topics. On the localisation and decolonisation agendas, one post promotes 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 bring to your attention the webinar ‘The Politics of Digital Humanitarianism’ to be held on June 25th.
In terms of conflict analysis, one blog reflects on conflict sensitivity in South Sudan, while the other advocates 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 examines the difficulties of international seafarers caught by travel restrictions.
Finally, we have two Spanish pieces: One discusses Colombia’s protests, and the other promotes a new report on human mobility due to climate change and disasters in Latin America.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 aid, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).