Conflict

International Committee Red of the Cross and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. 2/2018. Engaging with People Affected by Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence: Recommendations for Humanitarian Organizations and Donors in the Digital Era.Abstract

ICRC & the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) launch a joint discussion paper that provides recommendations for humanitarian organisations and donors in today's digital era.

Based on a review of the relevant literature and interviews with representatives of the humanitarian sector, donors, and community-based organizations, the paper offers an overview of how the humanitarian community currently engages with people affected by armed conflict and violence; a review of the opportunities and challenges for meaningful engagement; and a series of recommendations for both humanitarian organizations and donors.

Jocelyn Kelly, Elizabeth Colantuoni, Courtland Robinson, and Michele R Decker. 4/2018. “From the battlefield to the bedroom: a multilevel analysis of the links between political conflict and intimate partner violence in Liberia.” BMJ Global Health, 3, 2. Read PublicationAbstract

Objectives Assess the link between levels of armed conflict and postconflict intimate partner violence (IPV) experienced by women in Liberia.

Methods Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project data were used to measure conflict-related fatalities in districts in Liberia during the country’s civil war from 1999 to 2003. These data were linked to individual-level data from the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey, including past-year IPV. Multilevel logistic models accounting for the clustering of women within districts evaluated the relationship of conflict fatalities with postconflict past-year IPV. Additional conflict measures, including conflict events and cumulative years of conflict, were assessed.

Results After adjusting for individual-level characteristics correlated with IPV, residence in a conflict fatality-affected district was associated with a 50% increase in risk of IPV (adjusted OR (aOR): 1.55, 95% CI 1.26 to 1.92). Women living in a district that experienced 4–5 cumulative years of conflict were also more likely to experience IPV (aOR 1.88, 95% CI 1.29 to 2.75).

Conclusion Residing in a conflict-affected district even 5 years after conflict was associated with postconflict IPV.

Policy implications Recognising and preventing postconflict IPV violence is important to support long-term recovery in postconflict settings.

Emmanuel Tronc and Anaïde Nahikian. 12/2018. Fragile Future: The human cost of conflict in Afghanistan. Read PublicationAbstract
This context analysis examines the humanitarian, political, societal, and economic dimensions that make the protracted conflict in Afghanistan intractable and precarious for civilian populations. The report is based on field visits to numerous regions in Afghanistan in July 2018 — which included interviews and consultations with a variety of actors, including political stakeholders, humanitarian agencies, and populations affected by conflict — as well as a review of recent and relevant literature. The purpose of this analysis is to (1) provide a current assessment of the conflict, drawing from field interviews and an in- depth assemblage of various reports and resources, (2) examine the interconnected and interdependent interests fueling the conflict, and (3) suggest that if these dynamics persist in the way they have for decades, recent elections and peace talks will represent yet another setback for Afghan communities and a peaceful future for the country.
Emmanuel Tronc, Rob Grace, and Anaïde Nahikian. 11/2018. Humanitarian Access Obstruction in Somalia: Externally Imposed and Self-Inflicted Dimensions . Read PublicationAbstract

Access obstruction in conflict settings has emerged as a critical operational and policy concern across the humanitarian sector, but there remains a dearth of analysis regarding the ways in which humanitarian organizations perpetuate self-inflicted access obstacles. Drawing on qualitative interviews conducted with local and international actors negotiating frontline humanitarian access in Somalia, this paper will examine the ways in which this context elucidates this phenomenon. Toward this end, this paper examines two dimensions of humanitarian access obstruction in this context. The first set of dynamics consists of externally imposed obstacles that stem from governmental actors, Al-Shabaab, access "gatekeepers" motivated by financial gain, and the insecure nature of the environment. The second set of dynamics consists of self-inflicted dimensions of access obstruction that emanate from decisions that international humanitarian organizations (IHOs) have made at the strategic or policy level. These issues include the physical "bunkerization" of IHOs, programmatic shortcomings, the discounting of local humanitarian actors' agency, and the ways that IHOs exhibit programmatic partiality in response to donors' interests and counterterrorism legislation. Through examining these issues, this paper highlights fact that, although the discourse on humanitarian access obstruction tends to emphasize difficulties arising from externally imposed obstacles, it is also important to interrogate the value and methods of humanitarian programming itself.

Susan Andrea Bartels, Saja Michael, Sophie Roupetz, Stephanie Garbern, Lama Kilzar, Harveen Bergquist, Nour Bakhache, Colleen Davison, and Annie Bunting. 1/2018. “Making sense of child, early and forced marriage among Syrian refugee girls: a mixed methods study in Lebanon.” BMJ Global Health, 3, 1. Read PublicationAbstract

The Syrian conflict has resulted in over 2.3 million child refugees in the Middle East and the prevalence of early marriage has reportedly increased among displaced Syrian families. This study explores the underlying factors contributing to child marriage among Syrian refugees in Lebanon with the goal of informing community-based strategies to address the issue.

In July–August 2016, trained interviewers collected self-interpreted stories in Lebanon using Cognitive Edge’s SenseMaker, a mixed-method data collection tool. Participants included married and unmarried Syrian girls, Syrian parents as well as married and unmarried men. Each participant shared a story about the experiences of Syrian girls and then interpreted the story by plotting their perspectives on a variety of questions. Patterns in the responses were analysed in SPSS and the accompanying qualitative narratives were reviewed to facilitate interpretation of the quantitative results.

Mark Latonero, Danielle Poole, and Jos Berens. 3/2018. Refugee Connectivity: A Survey of Mobile Phones, Mental Health, and Privacy at a Syrian Refugee Camp in Greece.Abstract
The report, Refugee Connectivity: A Survey of Mobile Phones, Mental Health, and Privacy at a Syrian Refugee Camp in Greece, is the result of 2017 field research by Data & Society, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s (HHI) Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, and Centre for Innovation at Leiden University. Lead authors of the report are Mark Latonero, Ph.D. of Data & Society, Danielle Poole of HHI/Signal and the Harvard School of Public Health, and Jos Berens, formerly of Leiden University. 
Signal Program. 3/2020. Displacement & Destruction: Analysis of Idlib, Syria 2017-2020.Abstract
As the Syrian civil war enters its tenth year on  March 15, the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology conducted satellite imagery analysis to capture the rapid expansion of displaced people’s camps and the widespread impact of aerial bombardment in Idlib, Syria. This work was completed in collaboration with Save the Children and World Vision International. On 1 March 2020, the UN estimated that 961,286 individuals have been displaced since December 1, 2019; this is the largest mass displacement and acute humanitarian crisis since the  Syrian conflict began in 2012. Analyzing two internally displaced person (IDP) camps, the Signal team found that the camp areas analyzed increased by approximately 100% and 177% respectively between September 2017 and February 2020. Camp growth between December 2019 and 2020 revealed new structures and further construction, consistent with a significant influx of displaced persons.  The UN Human Rights Council reports that between May 2019 and January 2020, aerial bombardment and a surge of ground-level assaults contributed to a wave of IDPs throughout Idlib as civilian areas were repeatedly targeted. Signal’s analysis of two areas in conflict-affected towns in southern Idlib found that approximately 30% of structures were damaged; this figure likely underestimates the total damage.
Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, Kevin Coughlin, Muslih Irwani, Waad Ibrahim Khalil, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2020. “English Version: "Never Forget: Views on Peace and Justice Within Conflict-Affected Communities in Northern Iraq"”.Abstract

This survey offers a snapshot of the perceptions and attitudes about peace and justice within communities affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). It is based on 5,213 interviews conducted in 2019 among a representative sample of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq and residents of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas.The research documents a severe lack of trust in official institutions, particularly in the Government of Iraq itself, stemming in large part from the belief that these institutions do not act in the best interest of the population. Few respondents had confidence in the Government of Iraq’s ability to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic State fairly and accurately and to provide justice to survivors of the conflict.Despite the mistrust, respondents favor local justice and truth-seeking mechanisms. They view these efforts as necessary to build a durable peace, alongside measures to address the root causes of the rise of IS and longstanding divisions between the people of Iraq. However, rather than the challenge being diversity itself, the challenge is the Government of Iraq’s ability to promote and facilitate reconciliation and unity.Without an accountable government that is perceived to be legitimate and is trusted by all Iraqis, calls for justice and accountability may go unanswered, and the country risks slipping back into another conflict.

The research was conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with Mosul University and the Iraq-based Public Policy Institute. It was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which played no role in the design, analysis or publication of the research.

Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, Kevin Coughlin, Muslih Irwani, Waad Ibrahim Khalil, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2020. “الترجمة العربية (Arabic Version): "Never Forget: Views on Peace and Justice Within Conflict-Affected Communities in Northern Iraq"”.Abstract

This survey offers a snapshot of the perceptions and attitudes about peace and justice within communities affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). It is based on 5,213 interviews conducted in 2019 among a representative sample of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq and residents of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas.The research documents a severe lack of trust in official institutions, particularly in the Government of Iraq itself, stemming in large part from the belief that these institutions do not act in the best interest of the population. Few respondents had confidence in the Government of Iraq’s ability to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic State fairly and accurately and to provide justice to survivors of the conflict.Despite the mistrust, respondents favor local justice and truth-seeking mechanisms. They view these efforts as necessary to build a durable peace, alongside measures to address the root causes of the rise of IS and longstanding divisions between the people of Iraq. However, rather than the challenge being diversity itself, the challenge is the Government of Iraq’s ability to promote and facilitate reconciliation and unity.Without an accountable government that is perceived to be legitimate and is trusted by all Iraqis, calls for justice and accountability may go unanswered, and the country risks slipping back into another conflict.

The research was conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with Mosul University and the Iraq-based Public Policy Institute. It was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which played no role in the design, analysis or publication of the research.

Emmanuel Tronc and Anaïde Nahikian. 7/21/2020. “Ukraine - Conflict in the Donbas: Civilians Hostage to Adversarial Geopolitics”. Read PublicationAbstract
Since 2014, the war in the Donbas, fueled and sustained by local and regional political priorities, has inflicted a heavy burden of civilian death, injury, displacement, destruction, and lasting trauma. As the conflict continues, the people of Donbas are more isolated than ever from the rest of their country, subjected to discrimination and stigmatization by both the Ukrainian authorities and separatist leaders. Today, a confluence of factors continues to drive conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Triggered by the 2013 Euromaidan protests in Kyiv, the rupture between the post-Maidan Ukrainian government and local elites in the Donbas over aspirations of independence and self-determination highlighted the growing schism between those with Russian-oriented ambitions and those supporting the new Ukrainian regime. As clans, warlords, and oligarchs within Ukraine fight for political influence and financial gain, Russian influence continues to destabilize the Westward-leaning Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv, reinvigorating the enduring geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West. Humanitarian operations in Eastern Ukraine are also under significant pressure by the separatist authorities. Agencies struggle to bridge the gap between critical needs and their response capacity, while being forced to rely almost exclusively on local organizations. In the process of humanitarian and access negotiations, agencies must guard against the instrumentalization of aid, the blurring of lines between political, military, and relief operations, and an ever-shrinking humanitarian space. What drives this protracted conflict? How have global politics and local agendas contributed to sustaining a “frozen” conflict at the expense of communities and in the interest of asserting nationalist independence at all costs? How have the hopes of local communities in the Donbas withered over time, as they navigate the dissonance in geopolitical rhetoric and their lived reality? What avenues exist for reconciliation and unity amidst this violent divisiveness? This report explores these questions and offers reflections based on more than 250 interviews undertaken during two field visits to Ukraine, in both government and separatist-controlled areas, and one visit to Russia, between November 2019 and January 2020. It also draws on an extensive desk analysis of relevant literature to complement the findings of these interviews and consultations.

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