Monthly Archives: February 2015

Alumni Update: Amber Van Schendel (IDHA 39) and Michelangelo Brambillasca (IDHA 21)

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IDHA 44 received a visit from some old friends: Amber Van Schendel (IDHA 39) and Michelangelo Brambillasca (IDHA 21). Thanks for stopping by!

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Alumni Update: Paola Mermati (IDHA 40)

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Paola Mermati (IDHA 40) will be working for the next year in the Pattani province of southern Thailand as a delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 

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IIHA Spotlight: IDHA 44

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Dear friends,
Two weeks ago, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) began its 44th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) at Château de Bossey near Geneva, Switzerland. The IIHA team welcomed 24 students from 18 different nations, representing 21 different humanitarian organizations and currently working in 17 countries around the world.
Once again, the IDHA was led by IIHA Humanitarian Programs Director, Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E, who was joined by a strong group of tutors: Anthony Land, Ph.D. (IIHA Senior Fellow), Al Panico (IDHA 30), and David Bopp (IDHA 27).
The course was opened by CIHC Board Member and Chief of Mission of the IOM in Germany, Argentina Szabados (IDHA 2), who kindly took time to travel and speak with the participants. During the first week, CIHC Board Member and former DG of UNRWA Peter Hansen delivered a session on Palestine and Israel to which the students participated with great enthusiasm and debate. Brigadier James Ellery, C.B.E. (AEGIS), talked about the work of Private Security Companies in the field. We were honored to include in the program lectures on Human Rights Law delivered by James Rodehaver (UNHCHR), International Humanitarian Law by Vincent Sautenet (ICRC), Disaster Law by Tessa Kelly (IFRC) and Paulo Caveleri (IFRC), and a case study on humanitarian coordination in the Philippines by Jesper Lund (OCHA, IDHA 11).
It was my pleasure to spend the second week with the participants and alumni, getting to know them and speaking to them about our programs and our IDHA family. They had worked hard in their exams and their presentations and were preparing for the upcoming week. When we look at the numbers above, we focus on how different they are: 24 students from 18 different countries. In a little more than a week, they will leave the beautiful Château de Bossey and return to their work. What we should never lose focus on, however, is how the IDHA brings these different people together, how they become friends, how they forge personal relationships with one another, with their tutors, and, hopefully, with the alumni that they meet. It is for this reason that I wanted to be with them: to urge them to keep their focus on the things that make us one group and one family. This could not be done without the remarkable work of the staff, especially the tutors, and, above all, Larry Hollingworth.
We wish them the best of luck on their papers, their presentations, and their exams, and welcome them into our IDHA family.
Sincerely,
Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9)
Executive Director, IIHA
Fordham University

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Alumni Update: Letizia Montecalvo (IDHA 40)

 

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Letizia Montecalvo (IDHA 40) is currently working in Brussels for the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), as Desk Officer for Syria Cross border operations. She began her position there in March 2014, after almost 5 years in the occupied Palestinian territory, first with the Italian Government and then with UNRWA 

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Alumni Update: Matthew Hollingworth (IDHA 1)

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Matthew Hollingworth (IDHA 1), United Nations World Food Programme’s Syria Country Director, recently shared a video in which he discusses the situation in Syria and what his work with World Food Programme (WFP) is doing to aid the families this situation puts in need. See it here

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Alumni Update: Patricia Cole (IDHA 37)

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Patricia Cole (IDHA 37) recently moderated a panel entitled “Human Trafficking & Corporate Responsibility from the Business, Government, and Non-Profit Perspectives.” This event, part of Fordham University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership’s Coffee, Conversation, & Connecting Series and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Anti Human Trafficking Series, emphasized that human trafficking is not only a social justice and human rights issue but also a corporate social responsibility issue.

Through presentations given by David Arkless (President, International CDI), Rosalee Keech (Board Member and UN Observer for the League of Women Voters of the U.S.), Debra Brown Steinberg (Founder VS.: Confronting Modern Slavery), and John Temple (Attorney-in-Charge, Human Trafficking Program, NY County District Attorney’s Office), the panel encouraged good businesses to adopt and expand internal standards that will identify, prevent, and eliminate human trafficking. Important strategies include adopting sound compliance, educating management and staff, notifying partners and suppliers and supporting effective legislation. It is the hope of the organizers that the panel will also continue to foster cross-sector partnership and commitment of government, business, and nonprofits to end human trafficking. Patricia is the Founder and Anti Human Trafficking Program Director of the “What Business Can Do to Fight Human Trafficking” Series at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, a Representative of the RSHM NGO, and Coalition Member of the UN Committee Stop Trafficking in Persons. To learn more, and to get involved, please contact Patricia (pcole1@fordham.edu).

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Alumni Update: Mlungisi Kunene (IDHA 38)

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Mlungisi Kunene (IDHA 38) recently received a promotion to join the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as Regional Programme Officer. He is also currently pursuing a Masters in Forced Migration and Displacement through the African Centre for Migration & Society at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

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Ebola Waning: The Role of Community in Epidemic Response

Although residual fear still lingers among communities in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, recent reports show that the Ebola epidemic – which has claimed the lives of over 8,900 people – has finally showed signs of slowing in West Africa. As the disease tore through Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Mali, and the first cases appeared in the US, infectious disease experts released  grim predictions of the dire situation to come. Now, almost one year after the first case arose in March 2014, the rage of the epidemic is beginning to calm. Many have cited international assistance as the main cause for the downward trend in cases, but recent evidence seems to suggest that community initiatives and precautions have played a major role in combatting the spread of the disease.

In Liberia and Sierra Leone, neighborhoods have mobilized, healthcare workers have volunteered, and rural villagers have formed local Ebola task forces. Ebola survivors have even created their own organizations to help other Ebola survivors reintegrate back into society as they cope with trauma, grief, and potential stigmatization. A recent article published by the New York Times details the measures taken by communities in Sierra Leone who took it upon themselves to track infections, set up informal isolation centers, and even create blockades in some neighborhoods to take the temperatures of those who entered. The article also highlights an unanticipated key advantage of humanitarian response in urban settings: a more educated population is better able to adapt and change behavioral patterns – despite the tracing challenges posed by dense living conditions.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has warned that the fight is far from over, citing critical gaps in Ebola response particularly in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Officials also warn that the epidemic will not be over until cases reach zero in all three countries. Yet the resounding examples of community strength and mobilization bring hope for better prepared networks of first responders.

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Alumni Update: Elias Sadkni (IDHA 39)

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Elias Sadkni (IDHA 39) recently graduated from the University of Sussex with a Masters Degree in Conflict Security and Development. Elias wrote his dissertation on civil society and peacebuilding in Syria, examining how grassroot organizations can assist with and contribute to the peacebuilding process. Following his graduation, Elias was featured in two articles that describe his plans to return to Syria to continue his work with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) providing food and medical and psychosocial support for the internally displaced. Elias’ future plans also include creating his own peace initiative focused on healing the social rifts created by the war. Congratulations, Elias! Read the articles here and here.

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Alumni Update: Charles Apotheker (IDHA 40)

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After having spent 7 months as Program Manager for Handicap International in North Lebanon responding to the Syrian refugee crisis between August 2013 and January 2014, Charles Apotheker (IDHA 40) has been seconded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) since June 2014 as the Humanitarian Advisor/Program Officer for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Khartoum, Sudan, working on mainstreaming “do-no-harm” and “Accountability to Affected Populations” approaches across WFP operations.

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