Monthly Archives: September 2015

Leitner Center event featuring IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow, Alex van Tulleken, M.D.

How to Use Humanitarian Aid: A Guide for Abusive States

  • Date: October 6, 2015
  • Location: Room 4-09, Fordham Law School, 150 W. 62nd St. New York, NY 10023

Humanitarian Aid frequently brings desirable commodities and foreign currency into complex emergencies where powerful actors – abusive governments, rebel militias, private companies and others – have different and frequently competing agendas. A number of countries have been the target of humanitarian dollars for several decades and have become expert at manipulating humanitarian aid for their own purposes. Join the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice as IIHA Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow Alex Van Tulleken examines specific examples of this and the vulnerabilities that make it possible for NGOs and UN agencies to be co-opted into state abuses.

For more information, please visit the event page.

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IIHA Training Update: MHCE 11


Last week, the IIHA welcomed 25 students to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for its 11th Mental Health in Complex Emergencies (MHCE) course, organized with HealthNetTPO, UNHCR, and International Medical Corps. The course was directed by Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E., Humanitarian Programs Director, Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC) and Visiting Professor, Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), Fordham University; Lynne Jones, O.B.E. FRCPsych., Ph.D., Visiting scientist, FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, Harvard University and Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Cornwall Partnership Foundation NHS Trust; and Peter Ventevogel, M.D. Senior Mental Health Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Congratulations to our recent MHCE graduates!

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Education in Emergencies and SDG #4

The Open Working Group’s Proposal for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as the Zero Draft managed to put forward an ambitious and comprehensive agenda to tackle poverty, climate change and social exclusion but had some glaring blind spots. Focusing on developmental challenges, political inclusion and preventive action, the response to humanitarian crises was not a priority and was only mentioned in the Introduction to the first document but not in any of the Goals and Targets. As part of the Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiations, in May 2015, two of the 169 targets (both related to resilience in Goals 1 and 11) included a specific reference to the people affected by humanitarian emergencies. In a world with ever growing numbers of forcibly displaced people caused by conflicts and natural disasters it will be impossible to achieve the ‘getting to zero’ concept of the SDGs if humanitarian crises are not put at the center of the world’s attention.

Most of the people affected by those crises are children. For anyone working on education the Proposal of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 opened an unprecedented window of hope marking a significant improvement from the quantitative approach of the Millennium Development Goals and the limited scope of the Unesco’s Education For All Objectives. But there is no chance of achieving the targets of Goal 4 (from universal primary and secondary education, to the equal access to vocational and tertiary education, to the improvement in the quality of teachers around the world) if we leave behind the children who have been forced to leave their homes because of violence or weather-related disasters.

More than half of the people displaced by conflict in the world today are children. War has a dramatic disproportionate impact on the life of children, disrupting the school systems and compromising their future. When children reach refugee camps the availability of schools is limited and the quality of the education insufficient. Even in protracted crises we haven’t been able to ensure universal access to quality education for the children that have been living in camps for years. Half of the 57 million children who are out of school today live in conflict-affected countries. Without a concerted effort to provide them with enough classrooms, material and qualified teachers Goal 4 will be unmet in fifteen years time.

It has been estimated that in this decade 175 million children will be affected by natural disasters (STC, 2014). The Nepalese earthquake of 2015 left more than one million children without classrooms. The drought in the Sahel region forced dozens of thousands of children to leave the schools in order to find food for their families. The number of natural disasters will increase in the next years and with it the number of children that will some level of traumatic disruption to their schooling. If the needs of these millions of children are not addressed specifically addressed we might end up with more children out of school in 2030 than the ones we have in 2015.

The Sustainable Development Goals will have a major impact on donor policies in the next years. Recent declines in funding for education in emergencies have limited the capacity of local and international agencies to respond to the needs of the children. Putting humanitarian crises at the heart of SDGs Goal 4 would create the necessary impulse to convert the drama of displacement into an opportunity for learning.

Today Governments, private institutions and international organizations are rethinking the way education is provided in a rapidly changing world. If we don’t incorporate children affected by conflict and natural disasters the predictable outcome will be more poverty, more despair, widening inequality and the failure of the international community to take care of the most vulnerable amongst us.

-Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán, June 2015

This post is based off remarks prepared by Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán in advance of the 2015 International Conference on Sustainable Development – “Implementing the SDGs: Getting Started,”  hosted at Columbia University from September 23-24, 2015. Gonzalo SánchezTerán is a frequent tutor for the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) and a graduate of IDHA 16. From October 4th – 8th, 2015, he will direct the 2nd IIHA Education in Emergencies (EiE) course in Amman, Jordan. Learn more


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NYC Event: RiF Asylum Support Group at Fordham University

RiF Logo

RIF Asylum Support Group

Tuesday, October 6th, 1:00 PM

Fordham University, McMahon Hall, 155 W 60th Street, Room 109

Guest speakers: Marilee Johns, (IRC Resettlement Supervisor) & Leonie Guei

Marilee from the IRC will make a presentation on programs available for asylum seekers and for those who have been granted asylum

Leonie Guei, a former asylum seeker now US citizen will share about entering Brooklyn Law School

For more information, please contact, call 917-517-6781, or visit

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Alumni Update: Holly Curtis (IIHA Intern, IHS Minor, FCRH ’13)

Holly Curtis (IIHA Intern, Summer 2012; IHS Minor, FCRH ’13) is now working as a Community Manager at Girls’ Globe, a network of bloggers and organizations working to raise awareness about the rights, health, and empowerment of women and girls around the world.

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Letter to IIHA Family from Prem

On February 25, 2015, the IIHA announced the release of Alexis Premkumar “Prem” Antonysamy, S.J. (IDHA 32, MIHA), who had been held in captivity by the Taliban since June 2014. Following the news of Fr. Prem’s release, the IIHA began a letter writing campaign to share with Prem the thoughts and prayers of the IIHA community. The IIHA received an overwhelming amount of messages, posts, and emails from current students, alumni, lecturers, and friends – all of which were compiled into a book then sent to Prem. Please find below a letter from Prem to the IIHA family in which he extends his gratitude for the thoughts and prayers received throughout his captivity and following his release. The IIHA would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, our IIHA community of family and friends, for your tremendous outpouring of support for one of our own.

Dear my friends of IIHA family,

Greetings from Prem.

I sincerely thank all of you for your prayers and “Letters to Prem.”

Prem (top row, fourth from left) with his IDHA 32 class in Goa, 2010

I strongly believe that besides the efforts of JRS, Jesuits and both Indian and Afghan governments, it is your prayers that has brought me new life.

“Letters to Prem” gives me joy of great memories of my days with you in the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) 32 in Goa, India in 2010, International Diploma in Operational Humanitarian Assistance (IDOHA) in Geneva in 2012 and International Diploma in the Management of Humanitarian Action (IDMHA) in New York in 2013.

During my captivity I thought of you very intensely because I was not able to attend my 4th module in New York, 2014 as planned. I had arranged everything for my travel to USA but it was unfortunate that I was kidnapped on 2nd June, 2014.   I remembered the lecture clearly on ‘security’ by Mr. Larry Hollingworth and I am grateful for that. Perhaps training on security unconsciously helped me to cope with the suffering during the captivity and manage the situation with certain amount of prudence.

It is my prayer that it should not happen to anybody as it happened to me. Nevertheless I am grateful to that event since it has brought so much blessings too. I had great time to be closer to God; I was united with all of you in spirit and now I receive greater love and care from various quarters even from unknown.

My special thanks to Mr. Brendan and Ms. Kasia who were the backbones of “Letters to Prem.”

With kind regards,

Prem (IDHA 32)

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The Humanitarian Newsletter: September 16 – 30, 2015


Read the latest IIHA Humanitarian Newsletter for upcoming events and job opportunities, a special feature on our first cohort of NOHA International Association of Universities NOHA Deusto – Master in International Humanitarian Action Scholars, and news about our wonderful IIHA and IDHA alumni!


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Alumni Update: Joe Lowry (IDHA 12)

Joe Lowry (IDHA 12) has shared two new blog posts outlining his time spent in Sri Lanka and Micronesia. He brings us through a picture gallery of the wonder he felt at experiencing Nan Madol and then delves into the issues that El Nino may bring to Sri Lanka and the surrounding region this year.

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World Humanitarian Summit Update

The UN Secretary-General will convene the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul in 2016. This three-year initiative is being managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The WHS aims to find new ways to address humanitarian needs in our fast-changing world and to bring the global community together to commit to new ways of working together to save lives and reduce hardship around the globe.

In August, OCHA announced that the Chief of the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat, Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, would step down at the end of the year. IIHA Alumna, Kristy Siegfried of IRIN, recently wrote an article about this new development, in which she provides insight to Dr. Mahmood’s inspirational leadership and the lasting mark Dr. Mahmood will leave on the WHS proceedings. The IIHA wishes IDHA Honoris Causa Recipient Dr. Mahmood all the best in her new position!

As the WHS draws closer, new initiatives include continued events and consultations, and a new blog that will provide commentary and thoughts from UN and other contributors on current crises and modern humanitarian questions. PHAP has also now made available on YouTube all consultation and discussion events in support of the  WHS.

Beginning on 21 September, the WHS online global consultation will gather comments and feedback to inform the preparations for the Global Consultation in Geneva from 14-16 October 2015. Individuals interested in participating may so on the WHS website. The Global Consultation will gather around 900 high-level participants from all stakeholders in humanitarian action. Participants will include representatives from affected communities, governments, civil society, national and international NGOs, regional organizations, United Nations agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the private sector and academia.

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Alumni Update: Andy McElroy (IDHA 16)

Andy McElroy (IDHA 16) released a new article “Cyclone recovery in the Pacific” giving an update on the destruction that Cyclone Pam has caused in Vanuatu. He says that the devastation in Vanuatu provides a real time example of the effectiveness that the Sendai Framework has on disaster management. McElroy says one of the main questions everyone is asking is: how do we get local businesses up and running as quickly as possible to jumpstart the economy?

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