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close this bookMeeting the Humanitarian Challenge - UNV's Work Between Conflict and Development (United Nations Volunteers, 44 p.)
close this folderCurrent concerns and future perspectives
View the documentDrawing from experience in the field
View the documentReducing scope for conflict: demobilisation
View the documentParticipatory peace-building dynamics
View the documentPromoting human rights and education for peace
View the documentDisaster prevention and preparedness at community level
View the documentPutting human development back on the agenda
View the documentAdministrative support to UNVs in humanitarian assignments
View the documentH... for Humanity: serving a purpose... for millions in need

Drawing from experience in the field

The humanitarian/peace/democratisation complex obviously constitutes a major present and future opportunity for constructive social development. The humanitarian relief and rehabilitation dimension offers great possibilities for UNV and UNDP, and provides strategic entry for subsequent graduation to longer-term sustainable development,

Once a major programme opportunity arises, rapid networking with the Country Offices and supportive organisations (including the traditional UNV Cooperating Organizations and newer theme-specific partners) can lead to greatly expanded UNV delivery capacity, as witnessed by the mobilisation for the Cambodia elections. Major programme opportunities for UNV can devolve from major UN agenda issues, especially arising out of Security Council preoccupations. Mention has already been made in this document of the human rights area in terms of the services which UNV is beginning to mobilise.

After a couple of years of increasingly intensive UNV involvement in humanitarian assistance, a number of issues merit further consideration. First and foremost is that the feedback received from the UNV specialists themselves is essential to any meaningful appreciation of the work they are actually doing. The feedback being received at present, as reflected in this document, gives only a partial idea of the extent to which the UNV specialists have in fact achieved considerable humanitarian results, as confirmed by visiting missions to the field and by the positive comments of user agencies. For a more detailed account it will be essential that UNV specialists (and their supervisors) systematically and regularly foreward periodic review reports.

Experience already gleaned from UNV involvement in various humanitarian assistance programmes demonstrates that capable and dedicated UNV specialists at local levels can:

• Provide support staff to local emergency relief coordinating units.

Examples: Rwanda, Lesotho, Kenya, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan

• Provide the necessary skills and local managerial capacity to support effective access to afflicted populations.

Examples: Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Somalia and ex-Yugoslavia

• Accelerate outreach to people in areas not presently receiving adequate assistance, through strengthened activities of the UN Agencies.

Examples: Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania

• Reduce mortality among young children, women, and the vulnerable; restore primary health care and other basic services (water, social, agricultural, veterinary, etc.), and accelerate return or resettlement of displaced communities.

Examples: Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda

• Develop income-generating and re-training activities for demobilised local militia/military and facilitate their reintegration into civil society, pre-empting risks of marginalisation and future destabilisation.

Examples: Eritrea, Somalia, Liberia and Mozambique,

• Assist in registration for return, and in logistical and technical arrangements for resettlement and repatriation of refugees, and internally displaced persons.

Examples: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia

• Monitor emerging human rights and humanitarian issues in major risk areas, and in areas of current strife, as they relate to possible UN and UNV roles.

Examples: Rwanda, Liberia and ex-Yugoslavia

There are two essential conditions for UNV specialists to be successful in these endeavours. One is that in addition to being carefully selected, the UNV specialists must be given a comprehensive cultural and country orientation at the beginning of their assignments; this should also entail an intensive local language training course, especially for those UNV specialists deployed in postings involving community interaction. Other training which may be required may include: participatory methods; recruitment and management of national staff; negotiation and mediation; security matters, personal safety, and communications. The other condition is that sustainable impact can only be brought about through association with local national co-workers, so that a dynamic of self-reliance is built in all UNV-supported activities.

During the past two years, a high percentage of UNV Specialists have undertaken assignments in war-zone areas such as Liberia, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. What has emerged from their periodic field reports is the need to incorporate personal stress and trauma management into pre - departure orientation/training. To date one group has availed of this type of pre-departure orientation through a special course organised in Geneva by the Humanitarian Relief Unit, for UNVs undertaking missions in various parts of the former Yugoslavia. The course proved to be highly successful and of immeasurable value to the volunteers when they reached the field.

Furthermore, the need for UNV specialists to have access to post-trauma counselling, should they be involved in a security incident, is one which is very much acknowledged by the HRU, and it is a policy which UNV is endeavouring to implement whenever and wherever possible. In fact, many UNV specialists who spend more than 3-6 monthsin an environment of continuous conflict and instability have reported that they would have benefited greatly from access to a qualified post-trauma counsellor after their assignment finished.

As UNV further develops its humanitarian capacity, new programmes are being continually developed. Many uncertainties remain, of which security concerns are of special importance. UNV is developing a security assessment methodology for determining the risks inherent in deployment in some areas, so that candidates and their co-sponsoring organisations can be better informed and prepared.

As UNV further develops its humanitarian capacity, new programmes are being continually developed. Many uncertainties remain, of which security concerns are of special importance