The ongoing military action in Afghanistan is deepening what was already a severe humanitarian crisis. Further displacement of civilians will have a profound impact upon the ability of the country and its people to recover. The movement of civilian populations in search of security, as a result of conflict, or food, as a result of drought, has characterized the long conflict in Afghanistan. The continuing flight of civilians from urban areas, in the face of aerial attacks, compounds a humanitarian situation that was already grave, due to a long and devastating drought in many parts of the country. Over the coming winter, more than a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) will require emergency assistance simply to survive. Apart from the immediate impact on the livelihoods of the displaced and their hosts, forced movement affects social relations and traditions within affected communities. It is important to take stock of these changes, and related shifts in community- or tribal-level politics that might occur during displacement, in efforts to support the recovery of vulnerable communities. This policy brief aims to provide a concise point of reference for those planning responses to the complex range of issues resulting from displacement. It includes a number of active links to the most relevant and reliable information sources. It concludes with a range of operational recommendations for international organizations, governments and NGOs working on this issue.
In the aftermath of the attacks against the United States on September 11 and the resulting conflict in Afghanistan, Western analysts and the media have referred extensively to Islamic notions such as shura, fatwa, shari’a, madrasa, and jihad in their reports on the region. Little information has been made available, however, on the meaning of these concepts and their actual political significance in Central Asia, more particularly in Afghanistan. As many analysts seek to distinguish the religion of Islam from the ideology behind the terror attacks, essential Islamic aspects of Afghan society and politics have been cast aside and remain misunderstood, limiting our understanding of the origins of political Islam in the region and our ability to relate to these key aspects of contemporary Afghan society. Afghanistan is considered one of the “most Islamic” countries in the world if one appreciates the extent to which Islam underpins many of the customs and tribal codes that condition numerous aspects of political and social life in the country. Islam, therefore, has a profound influence on the identity and social structure of the rural Afghans who compose an overwhelming majority of the population. With the exodus of the intellectual elite over the past 20 years and the demise of the more secular education that was previously available to most urban communities, Islamic education at madrasa, or religious schools, and local mosques have become the primary sources of education within the country and in most refugee camps.
Despite renewed commitment by States to respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law, the surge of violence against civilians has continued. Entire populations in Europe, Africa and Central Asia have been displaced, harassed or subjected to extreme forms of violence as a consequence of armed conflicts, in violation of the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian and human rights law.As a result, traditional schemes of protection enshrined in international law are increasingly questioned, revealing the need to develop new strategies to enhance the protection of civilians in times of war. In his Report to the Millennium Assembly, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote: “International conventions have traditionally looked at states to protect civilians, but today this expectation is threatened in several ways. First, states are sometimes the principal perpetrator of violence against the very citizens that humanitarian law requires them to protect. Second, non-state combatants, particularly in collapsed states, are often ignorant or contemptuous of humanitarian law. Third, international conventions do not adequately address the specific needs of vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced persons, or women and children in complex emergencies.”
This paper explores the nature of children’s security within the context of modern threats from globalization and new forms of warfare. It analyzes the sources of insecurity faced by children and the survival strategies they and their families employ as a result. Through a number of case-studies, it questions the usefulness of assistance programs that focus on the physical needs of children in isolation of their social and communal environment. As children are in a constant state of development, protecting their security requires more than support against physical harm. The paper argues that four dimensions of security are important for the protection of children in times of war: physiological necessities, safety, communal relationships and opportunities for personal development. Efforts to promote children’s security must involve analysis of these core dimensions and treat the coping strategies of children and their families as a roadmap for protection. The focus of this paper is children affected by war but the analysis also applies to children at risk in other circumstances, from street children, to those living in extreme poverty. Children’s security is particularly at risk in those countries under economic embargo, afflicted by armed conflict or by extreme poverty. Today’s threats take place in the context of wars sustained by the import of small arms and light weapons and are often fought over the control of valuable resources – oil, minerals, timber, gems - whose major markets are in the North. The dislocation caused by these wars fragments families and isolates children. While few of these threats are new, their impact on the life and security of children has increased with the globalization of trade, migration and communication. Civilians, especially children and their families, have been forced to develop new coping mechanisms for their changed situations. Children can no longer be viewed merely as the victims of war. They have taken on new roles as heads of households, child combatants, student leaders and actors in peace building. This paper explores how globalization affects the security of children, particularly in conflict areas. It presents a framework to structure the core dimensions of children’s security and discusses how the survival strategies employed by families and children when protections fail may be used as a signal for improving security conditions for children. The paper was produced for the Human Security Network meeting in Amman, 11-12 May 2001, with a contribution from the Canadian Department for Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
During the last twenty years, the United Nations, the Red Cross Movement and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have had to increasingly utilise negotiation to ensure access and the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need. Current trends of increasing international and intrastate conflict are likely to continue and thus negotiated access will remain an important issue. After a number of years of experience with such negotiation it may now be time to take stock of the lessons learned. This review has been based on field experience of humanitarian negotiations and on a rapid review of relevant literature. It highlights areas where common principles and issues have become clear in the negotiation process and, as a result, where a common approach and practice have evolved. It then examines areas where constraints have been encountered requiring reflection and analysis and areas where improvements may be needed. The paper finally outlines initial steps to strengthen capacity for humanitarian negotiation in the future.
The Conflict Prevention Initiative of the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research convened an online conference on setting the priorities for preventive action in Nepal from 25 January to 1 February 2001. Eighty respected scholars, NGO activists and officials were selected from Nepal and around the world to join this important forum. The participants were carefully chosen to represent a wide variety of different perspectives on the sources of the current insecurity. The objective of the conference was to provide a closed forum for the exchange of information and analysis on the sources of social, political and economic insecurity in Nepal as well as to deliberate on the most effective strategies for conflict prevention in the region. This conference was the first to develop the use of online conferencing to facilitate exchange between scholars and practitioners from around the world on conflict prevention strategies. This provided an opportunity to bring together a diverse group of individuals, many of whom would be unable to meet in a more traditional forum. This report presents a succinct summary of the main issues and findings of the online discussion, including recommended policies for organizations involved in the promotion of human security in Nepal. It summarizes over 140 contributions by over 80 participants, many of them from Nepal. The contributions were not censored and represent a vast array of political opinions regarding the sources of instability in Nepal. The role of the Program was to present the various perspectives and distill innovative recommendations from the discussion, and not to determine the value of these observations or to judge their appropriateness. Consequently, the report reflects the views of the participants and not necessarily those of the Harvard Program. The report is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the historical background of the unrest. The second provides a discussion of the most significant factors contributing to the current instability. An analysis of a wide range of measures that may contribute to increased stability in Nepal forms the final section.
The fourth Geneva Convention, adopted 50 years ago, on 12 August 1949, describes the actions that warring parties must take to protect civilian populations from the worst excesses of war. Building on the concept developed in the previous three conventions—that certain activities and people, especially civilians, can be seen as hors de combat—the fourth Geneva Convention defines in detail the many ways in which civilians must be dealt with to shield them from the direct and indirect effects of conflict between combatant forces. Among the responsibilities that this convention sets for the warring parties are explicit actions that would grant medical personnel, and all aspects of the medical enterprise, complete protection from interference or harm. This neutral status for medical relief (and, by extension, all humanitarian aid) rests on the reciprocal assumption that those who deliver this relief are practising in accord with their professional ethics and will take specified steps to maintain their neutral posture vis à vis the warring parties.
A phase 2 trial of vincristine infusion was conducted in a group of 21 patients with refractory multiple myeloma. Patients were generally heavily pretreated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Vincristine was given intravenously (IV) as a 0.5 mg bolus and followed immediately by infusion of 0.25 to 0.50 mg/m2/d for 5 days. Courses were repeated every 3 weeks in the absence of disease progression or prohibitive toxicity. Objective responses (partial) were noted in two patients (10%), both of whom were administered 0.5 mg/m2/d infusions. Response durations were brief (2.2 and 1.2 months). Toxicity consisted of neurotoxicity and myelosuppression. In addition to the occurrence of paresthesias and myalgias, ileus (two cases) and moderately severe loss of motor function (two cases) were observed. The mean lowest WBC count following treatment was 2.67 X 10(3)/microL v 3.96 X 10(3)/microL pretreatment (P = .008). The mean lowest platelet count was 75.0 X 10(3)/microL v 106.8 X 10(3)/microL pretreatment (P = .008). Vincristine infusion appears to have limited activity in the treatment of refractory multiple myeloma. Additionally, response durations were short lived and toxicity, both neurologic and hematologic, was appreciable.