Category Archives: Courses

IDHA 47 Continues in Geneva, Switzerland


The 47th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 47) commenced in Geneva, Switzerland on the 31st of January. IDHA 47 consists of 16 students from 13 countries, working with 14 different organizations.

All the students have quickly bonded and are looking forward to one last weekend of paper-writing and studying ahead of next week’s graduation.

Tony Land, Ph.D. (IIHA Senior Fellow), Theo Kruezen (IDHA 9), and Fausto Aarya De Santis (IDHA 44) came together as IDHA 47 tutors, Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E. as the Course Director, and Suzanne Arnold as Course Administrator.

Weeks 1 through 3 have welcomed back many members of the IDHA family as lecturers, including Peter Hansen (IIHA Diplomat in Residence), Tina Szabados (IDHA 2, IDHA Alumni Council Chairperson Emeritus, and CIHC Board Member), Pamela Lupton-Bowers (IDHA Faculty), Florian Razesberger (IDHA 20), Lynne JonesAnnika Sjöberg (IDHA 28), Isabelle Séchaud (IDHA 7), and Jesper Holmer-Lund (IDHA 11).

We wish all the IDHA 47 students the best of luck with all their work this weekend, and look forward to welcoming another group of IDHA graduates in one week’s time.

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Humanitarian Spotlight: Crisis in Calais

The world now faces the largest displacement crisis ever to be recorded, with almost 60 million people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014. For Europe and the United Kingdom, the migration crisis has confronted the region at its shores, and nowhere is this more evident in mainland Europe than in the migrant and refugee encampments of Calais, better known as “the Jungle”. Calais, a port city in northern France, has become a transitory home for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers trying to enter the United Kingdom. The site has been the locus of ongoing tensions between French authorities and migrant and refugee populations since 2002 when the official Red Cross reception center for migrants was closed due to overcrowding. The collection of informal settlements known as the Jungle developed soon after as a staging post for those attempting entry into the UK, but the camps have now become semi-permanent dwelling places due to the dangers of border crossing and lack of other viable options for settlement. The camps are marked by makeshift tents, overcrowding, and a lack of basic needs and services – squalid conditions that will only deteriorate further if nothing is done to address the situation, especially as the number of inhabitants continues to grow. The population of displaced who inhabit Calais has more than quadrupled since September 2014, now numbering between 6,000 – 7,000 individuals.

Dr. Lynne Jones, Co-Director of the IIHA Mental Health in Complex Emergencies (MHCE) course, recently volunteered in Calais with Help Calais, a crowd funding platform that has already raised more than £60,000 to help various projects in the camps, and shared her experiences in a diary on Calaid-ipedia.

Reflecting on her decision to volunteer, Lynne commented, “I disliked the stereotype of ‘marauding swarms’. I wanted to find out for myself why people were risking their lives on a daily basis to come to Britain. Calais is only 6 hours away. So often, Europeans will go to remote places, while there are people on our doorstep who need help. It seemed only logical to find out how I could be useful.” Lynne found a sizeable network of people who offer their help and services in the absence of much structured humanitarian response. The internet has also contributed greatly to galvanizing volunteers.

As can be expected, the volunteers and refugees in Calais face similar issues to those plaguing the larger humanitarian system including problems of coordination, logistics, how to reach the most vulnerable, funding, and navigating the tensions between the arriving populations and the host community, local authorities, and national government. The broader concerns of host government responsibility and the lack of durable solutions for displaced populations also echo those that hinder humanitarian efforts around the world. Yet despite these challenges and the uncertainty of the future, a community continues to form in the Jungle

Read Lynne’s Jungle Diary!

Lynne Jones, O.B.E. FRCPsych., Ph.D., is a Visiting scientist, FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, Harvard University and Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Cornwall Partnership Foundation NHS Trust. She is also the Co-Director of the IIHA Mental Health in Complex Emergencies (MHCE) Training Course, which is organized in cooperation with UNHCR, HealthNet TPO, and International Medical Corps (IMC). View our recent blog post about this year’s MHCE course in Addis. The next course is scheduled for Fall 2016.

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Addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Needs in Emergencies

This past Saturday marked World Mental Health Day (WMHD) 2015, a day spearheaded by the World Federation for Mental Health to promote dignified, humane treatment of those with mental illness. The day comes only weeks following the UN’s approval of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a new target to address to mental health needs. In recognition of WMHD 2015, events were hosted around the world to promote this year’s theme of “Dignity in Mental Health. The renewed attention to mental health and psychosocial issues highlights the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are afflicted by mental health problems, yet many still suffer in silence, or are victims of stigma, discrimination and abuse.

From September 20-30, the IIHA, in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), HealthNet TPO, and International Medical Corps (IMC), hosted its 11th annual Mental Health in Complex Emergencies (MHCE) training course to discuss and address some of the challenges of providing mental health and psychosocial care in (post) conflict areas or in complex disaster settings. The course, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, welcomed back Course Directors Larry Hollingworth, C.B.E., Humanitarian Programs Director, CIHC; 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, UNHCR. The Course Directors and Faculty organized a program that effectively balanced academic theory with practical experience, equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to respond to psychosocial and mental health needs in complex humanitarian emergencies and relief situations. Participants learned the critical importance of understanding the humanitarian context, while gaining practical tools of how to conduct needs assessments, monitor and evaluate projects, and promote security and self-care.

One of the participants of the MHCE course, Caitlin Cockcroft-McKay, Psychosocial Project Coordinator at HealthNet TPO, recently shared with us a personal testimonial of the course:

I feel very privileged to have been a part of the Mental Health in Complex Emergencies training in Ethiopia. It was a fantastically well-organised event, a great networking opportunity & a wonderful learning experience. Much of what I learnt during the ten days is directly applicable to my work in South Sudan and has helped to guide me in my planning for monitoring the quality of the programme we’re implementing. It will also help me to prepare for future projects, knowing that I have learnt from the best and that I can ensure projects are the best they can be for the people they are created for.

The combination of lectures & interactive learning sessions and workshops was fantastic as it gave a real opportunity to learn academic theory, background and research as well as to use skills we developed during the course. A real highlight for me was a practical session whereby we were in roleplay as refugees. Given the internationally diverse nature of the participants, we were able to realistically enact having border authorities who spoke a different language from the majority. It provided us with an experience of what it must be like to be refugees, moving as families through a setting that is totally unknown. It was humbling to realise that Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services are a basic human right, and should be fundamentally integrated into every single area of our programming in the humanitarian sector. We work in these difficult contexts to save lives and alleviate the suffering of people who have already lost so much, but we can’t do that without focusing on MHPSS.

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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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IIHA Marks Program Milestones


Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen (Photo by Tom Stoelker)

This upcoming Saturday, Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, will become the first graduate of the Masters in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) program, offered by Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

Ferdinand has been living and working in South Sudan for 16 years – first as a humanitarian worker during the second civil war, and then as an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sudan and Southern Sudan focusing on Governance, Peace Building and Community Security and Arms Control. He completed the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 9) in 2001, and has since tried to grapple with and better address the deeply rooted historical tensions that have existed between communities in South Sudan. His thesis is a passionate exploration of the narratives surrounding the violence he witnessed in South Sudan and the implications of humanitarian aid within this context.

Featured by Fordham as one of the Faces From the Class of 2015, Ferdinand now works as a consultant for the government of Switzerland in South Sudan to support the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation; the South Sudan Council of Churches; and regional peace talks between the government of South Sudan and rebels. He also works as a consultant for Aegis Trust to support initiatives that help prevent mass atrocities. Devoted father of four, Ferdinand currently lives in Nairobi with his wife and children. Following the diploma ceremony to take place this Saturday, Ferdinand will continue to use his experience and talents to search for peaceful solutions to conflict through dialogue and cooperation.

The IIHA will also celebrate another impressive cohort of undergraduates who have completed the International Humanitarian Studies Minor program, and our first class of students graduating with a Major in International Humanitarian Studies. The inaugural class of Majors includes Barbara Bemer, Catherine Chiodo, Lauren Giangrasso, Isis Quijada, and Lauren Ross.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!

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Conflict Affected Youth: Education and Paths to Peace



In last week’s well-attended lecture sponsored by Fordham University’s Department of Political Science, the FCRH Dean’s Office, and the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA), Kabba Williams, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, addressed students, faculty, and guests of Fordham University.  A passionate and engaging individual, Kabba described his journey from child soldier to education advocate, noting the personal challenges of reintegrating back into society and the vital importance of education in the lives of former child soldiers and other conflict-affected youth. In a statement that reveals both personal strength and the transformative role of education, Kabba told the audience,  “Despite all the obstacles, I was determined to be educated because I knew the power of education. It is the best legacy you can ever attain in this world. No one can take it from you.”

One of the youngest child soldiers rescued during the Sierra Leone civil war, Kabba has served as an advocate for education and reintegration of ex-combatant youth for Amnesty International and the United Nations. A recent graduate of Njala University, he is currently writing a memoir of his experiences.

Read more about his keynote address here.

Interested in learning more about the life-saving role of education in humanitarian crises and conflict situations? Take the IIHA Education in Emergencies course this October!

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Alumni Spotlight: First Joan Durcan Scholar Graduates IDHA


The first Joan Durcan Scholar,Vincent Kenny, Ph.D., graduated from the 44th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) held in Geneva, Switzerland this past February.

Enriched by a long career in development work and nonprofit organization management, Vincent has participated, managed, and taught on hundreds of graduate and postgraduate  courses at the Certificate, Diploma, Masters and Doctorate levels. Yet, the IDHA proved to be different experience for Vincent, allowing him to share his extensive knowledge while also learning from and alongside his classmates. The Joan Durcan Scholarship facilitated this endeavor, and allowed Vincent to take advantage of the “extraordinary range of talents and experience available to the participants throughout the intensive program,” as he explains in a beautifully written article about his time as a participant.

Reflecting on his memories of IDHA 44, Vincent writes:
“The whole experience was empowering and inspirational. I thought I had seen every type of program, however the unique learning framework of the IDHA is truly remarkable and worthwhile. It is a great legacy to humankind.”

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IIHA Spotlight: IDHA 44

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.
Brendan Cahill (IDHA 9)
Executive Director, IIHA
Fordham University

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