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close this bookDisplaced Persons in Civil Conflict - 1st edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1991, 52 p.)
close this folderPart 3: Operational considerations
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPolitical constraints
View the documentLogistical difficulties
View the document''Structural'' problems
View the documentReaching people in conflict zones
View the documentAvoiding pacification
View the documentSetting priorities
View the documentStrengthening counterpart organizations

''Structural'' problems

Many relief workers talk about the "international relief system." However, no one system exists. Rather, there are groups of organizations that provide different types of assistance at different levels. In any situation, these groups may band together formally or informally to provide relief to the displaced. Some organizations act in the capacity of fund raisers; others act as donors. Some provide funds directly to the displaced while others provide funds to other agencies that will help the displaced.

There are many difficulties with this ad hoc structure. NGOs are often seen as the primary operating agencies in emergencies. While many agencies have excellent capabilities, most can only provide a fairly limited range of services. Many of the most important areas where lives can be saved are overlooked. For example, only a handful of agencies have the capability of providing assistance in the sectors of water and sanitation. Few agencies are experienced in setting up and maintaining the "heavy" logistics system required for providing massive food aid.

Once the displaced are no longer in an emergency situation, few agencies are in a position to provide assistance to help people integrate into their new communities. Agencies rarely can provide the necessary jobs, education and temporary support to enable the displaced to take care of their own needs.

The system for international assistance is vastly over-stretched. The needs have grown far beyond the capability of international agencies to meet all requirements. Experienced personnel are often drawn from one operation to another before completing each contract. For this reason, UN staff should focus its attention on building up cadres of national emergency management personnel, both inside the government and in the private sector. By so doing, the sudden transfer of international personnel will not disrupt an ongoing program.

UN staff should focus its attention on building up cadres of national emergency management personnel, both inside the government and in the private sector.