Monthly Archives: January 2017

IIHA stands in solidarity with refugees

As humanitarian disasters rise in scale and severity around the world, an unprecedented number of people have become forcibly displaced from their homes. As humanitarians, we recognize that our shared responsibility to the plight of  refugees and immigrants does not end in camps or at the onset of disaster, but rather extends into our own communities and with our own neighbors. Today, more than ever, we are presented with this call to bear witness.

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation have a long standing tradition of training men and women around the world to effectively participate in answering this challenge.  Our educational approach has been, for twenty years, remarkably consistent: by learning from and knowing one another, we become better humanitarian professionals. Consequently, we are able to provide aid to those affected by crises with intelligence, flexibility, and dignity.  That celebration of other cultures and viewpoints has been a hallmark of every course we offer – whether to humanitarian professionals or undergraduate students.

Grounded in values of social justice and inclusivity, we are in full solidarity with our students and alumni from all around the world as well as the millions of refugees and migrants whom they serve – regardless of religion, nationality or immigration status.

In one week we will begin our 49th IDHA course, this time  in Kathmandu, followed by courses in Barcelona, Vienna, Cali, New York, and Amman. We will continue to cooperate with other academic and non-academic partners, and especially our family of alumni, to offer assistance to those who most need it. We look forward, as an independent Center and as an academic Institute, to preserving the rights of all, and the championing of a better world.

Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., President, CIHC; University Professor, IIHA
Brendan Cahill, Executive Director, IIHA
Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E., Humanitarian Programs Director, CIHC

Photo credit: Andrew Leger, IIHA Communications Intern

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Looking forward to 2017

Dear IIHA Community,

As we wrap up the first month of 2017, allow me to extend my warmest wishes to you for the year ahead. 2017 promises to be a year of great growth for the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and I wanted to reach out to you, to review where we are going, and how we intend to deepen our engagement with our community.

After 16 years of continued growth and nomadic movement through four different offices at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus in New York City, the IIHA will move to the Rose Hill campus. By being closer to Fordham’s academic community, we hope we will be able to provide new opportunities for our students. We will be located in Canisius Hall where additional space will allow us to bring in more dedicated research fellows and host exhibitions, lectures, and other extra-curricular events. This is the first of many changes that 2017 will bring.

After five years, we are saying goodbye to Dr. Alexander van Tulleken who is moving on from the Senior Fellow position to concentrate on his medical, media and humanitarian work throughout the world. This is no small change. Under his academic guidance, the undergraduate program flourished, and his insight and multidisciplinary and praxis-based approach informed our transformative approach to education. I know the decision to leave his undergraduate teaching and advising role with the Institute was not an easy one, but we are confident he will continue to be an active contributor to the Institute.

We are actively seeking his replacement and are fortunate to have welcomed two new members to the team. Ms. Angela Wells will serve as our the new IIHA Communications Officer. Ms. Wells, who had been working with Jesuit Refugee Service in East Africa, will direct our social media, websites, and communications initiatives. She looks forward to working with and being a resource for all of you. Giulio Coppi has become the first Humanitarian Innovation Fellow at the Institute. Mr. Coppi is the founder of High Tech Humanitarians, a project for humanitarian innovators supported by the Institute.

He is one of four core team of contingent faculty and research fellows teaching our undergraduate courses this semester, including:

  • Pat Foley, an applied anthropologist with 20 years of experience in emergencies, recovery and development;
  • Giulio Coppi, an expert on the use of Open Source technology and community-based approaches to humanitarian response;
  • Laura Perez, an internationally recognized expert on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict; and
  • Rene Desiderio, a technical expert in emergency and humanitarian response operations as well as topics ranging from population and development to international migration and gender.

We are additionally endeavoring to launch a new Master’s in Humanitarian Studies program, based on our New York campus. Paperwork for this initiative has been submitted to the New York State Department of Education and we are awaiting their approval. This program will allow us to extend our training to recent undergraduates and young professionals seeking to make their next step in their humanitarian careers.

Our Master’s in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) program and short courses for humanitarian workers will also continue to thrive with courses around the world. This year we will host three diploma (IDHA) courses in Nepal, New York and Vienna, as well as specialized short courses in Barcelona, Amman and Vienna. We are particularly excited for the summer IDHA in New York, as this will be the 50th diploma course to date. We are proud to have reached this milestone and will commemorate it with memorable activities.

As the year progresses forward, we hope to be an intellectual catalyst of discussion, collaboration and action toward a more socially just world. Our door and ears are open and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can better serve this community.

Warmest regards,

Brendan Cahill
Executive Director
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
Program Chair, Humanitarian Studies

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Practitioner Profile: Anthony Land, Ph.D. – IIHA Senior Fellow

Currently a Senior Fellow for the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University, Anthony (Tony) Land, Ph.D. has served as a Tutor for the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) course since its beginning in 1997. Dr. Land grew up in Borehamwood, a small town just north of London. He left school early at the age of 16 when he began to work as a laboratory assistant in the chemical industry while continuing his studies part time. In 1970 Land received his Bachelor’s degree in Applied Chemistry from Brunel University and subsequently received his Master’s degree in the areas of Chemistry and Material Science.

Following his studies, Land realized that technology was not the area to which he wanted to dedicate his life. Unsure of his next move, he decided to travel overland from Europe to India and Bangladesh, making many stops along the way. It was during this period of exploration that he had his first experience working in the humanitarian field by volunteering with church-related, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India. Leading on from this volunteering, he worked with Tearfund in Bangladesh developing the fair-trade export of handicraft items. From this job, he accepted a position with Tearfund as Field Director of ACROSS, a consortium of church-related aid organisations in, what was then, Southern Sudan.

At the time ACROSS had been subcontracted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to run refugee camps. It was this partnership that led to Land’s recruitment by the UNHCR. His work with UNHCR , mainly in field operation duties, took him to many parts of the world including Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malawi.  He also spent time with UNHCR in the Balkans, being instrumental in the establishment of the Sarajevo airlift before leading their office in Sarajevo. He then moved to Geneva to work in donor relations for UNHCR during a time when they was looking for people with field experience who could understand and communicate humanitarian operations and achievements. Land continued in donor relations for five years before being posted as Director of Operations in Kosovo and Head of Office in Vladikavkaz, North Caucasus. Returning to Geneva he worked as Deputy Head of Fundraising and then went on to become the UNHCR Head of Fundraising from the European Commission in Brussels before retiring in 2006.

Land lectured on the first IDHA course in 1997 and continued his involvement whenever possible. Following his retirement from UNHCR he became more involved with IIHA and has lectured and tutored on many courses. He now serves as a Senior Fellow with the Institute.

In a recent interview Dr Land responded to the following questions

What was your greatest accomplishment?

If I look back at one moment that stretched me and was a formative moment in my life, it would certainly be my time in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. I was caught in the middle of – and living in – a besieged city, where I was desperately trying to feed 350,000 people. My only logistics routes were a tenuous airlift, supplemented with a tortuous truck supply route both of which were often interrupted by the war. All of this had to be managed through negotiations with the warring parties, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. This is where I first worked with the now IIHA Humanitarian Programs Director, Larry Hollingworth, and Larry and I split the task of getting the convoys out of Sarajevo and across Serb territory into the Bosniak enclaves. This was accomplished by my conducting the negotiations across the front lines with Larry leading the convoys. While a convoy was in progress I was on 24-hour call to respond to the many problems Larry encountered.

What was your most difficult task?

My most difficult task was the one I got the least satisfaction from. It was my position in donor relations trying to meet the bureaucratic requirements of funding from the European Commission. The work was tedious, there were constant negotiations both externally with the Commission, and internally when there were difficulties getting information from the field with the necessary level of detail.

You mention that you have been lecturing on the IDHA course since IDHA 20. IDHA 48 was just held here in New York, and you were, again, an integral part of the course. Could you share some reflections about this latest course?

Every IDHA that I have worked on has been different. Each is a different environment. There are between 20 and 50 students on each IDHA and each course forms its own group identity. During the course we assign the students to syndicates. Each syndicate also forms its own identity. Some groups struggle more than others because they do not gel as easily different personalities giving rise to different dynamics. I can’t say that one course is better than the other but IDHA 48 has a unique identity.

While teaching, it is important to keep the purpose of the course intact while taking into consideration you are addressing a diverse range of individuals. If there are 50 students and on average each of them has two years of experience, that means you already have 100 years of experience within the student body. As a result, there is often a similar amount of experience collectively amongst the student body as in the faculty. This requires flexibility in how you teach to effectively bring out the wealth of experience in the students during the lectures.

What do you think the key challenges facing the humanitarian field today?

The humanitarian field faces many challenges and the tough part of this question is to identify priorities. The first key challenge is the possibility that you can work in an environment where only about half of the money appealed for is received. For example, this year (2016) humanitarians are appealing for about 20 billion dollars, the anticipated income is about 10 billion. This leads to credibility problems when nobody seems able to show that being fifty percent underfunded is directly leading to disaster and death. This was a problem I encountered in donor relations when I asked field teams to explain the impact of being underfunded. I could very rarely get a straight answer. One example that rose in 2014 was the impact of the underfunding of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) initiative to feed Syrian refugees in refugee camps. Some have suggested that this food shortage in the camps sparked the movement of refugees across Europe. Although others dispute this claim, this may be one case where a direct impact can at least be inferred. However, where it cannot be shown that underfunding causes direct human suffering, donors may draw one of two conclusions:

  • The money was not really needed, in which case the appeals lose their credibility, and
  • A large amount of funding included in the appeal is being provided from sources which are not effectively being tracked. Hence the deficit is significantly less than reported.

The second challenge is the continued growth of big international NGOs working in the humanitarian field with expensive overheads, international salaries, travel, and accommodation costs. The time has come when we need to train people who are living in disaster-prone areas to ensure the response can be carried out locally or at least regionally. When a disaster does happen, the funds can then go to organizations that have linguistic, cultural and economic roots on the ground, greatly reducing the need for the involvement of big foreign international NGOs. It is time to look for a different way respond to disasters and I believe this transition can be an important part of the answer. Unfortunately, the international NGOs have tremendous inertia just by their sheer size and influence on the donor community. They continue to grow and speak about growth and expansion as objectives. The transition to a more localized response is going to be difficult but it is the way ahead for the next 20 years.

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