Tag Archives: humanitarian

Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Training in Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, October 11, 2017 – Earlier this month the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation provided a two-day training in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law – Theory & Practice in Kiev, Ukraine in partnership with the Ukraine NGO Forum and sponsored by USAID and the Danish Refugee Council.

Ukraine NGO Forum

The course was taught by CIHC representative Florian Razesberger, an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance alumnus, lecturer, tutor and IDHA Alumni Council member. He is also the course director of Fordham University’s Human Rights in Humanitarian Crises course.

Ukraine NGO Forum

Under Florian’s instruction, 20 Ukraine-based humanitarian and human rights workers received in-depth training on the theory and practice behind protection mechanisms for crisis-affected populations as well as basics of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Ukraine NGO Forum

“I focused the training on enhancing participants’ understanding of the legal concepts of human rights and humanitarian law and, most importantly, on the tools for monitoring and documenting human rights abuses in the field. We thoroughly discussed measures that ensure humanitarian protection work is strategic and effective,” said Florian.

Ukraine NGO Forum

 

 

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IIHA Presents Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey

Father McShane blesses the inaugural exhibition, Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey (Roberta Munoz)

New York, 15 September 2017 – The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs is honored to present Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey, an exhibition highlighting the human condition and connection amidst atrocities of war.

The inaugural exhibition marked the official opening of the Institute’s new headquarters in Canisius Hall on Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus yesterday. Fordham University President Father Joseph M. McShane, SJ opened the exhibition with a traditional blessing of Canisius Hall in which he blessed the “work and aspirations” of the IIHA.

Horrors of War presents Francisco de Goya’s illustrations of 19th century conflict alongside photographs of modern-day warfare by world-renowned war photographer James Nachtwey. By bringing together the work of two artists from centuries apart, the exhibition illuminates the cruelty and beauty that co-exists in some of the darkest parts of human history.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, a world-renowned romantic painter and printmaker, illustrated the horrific outcomes of conflict between Spain and France in his Los desastres de la guerra [The Disasters of War], a series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820.  These drawings, 17 of which are on display at the Institute, showcase atrocious acts committed by both sides using ambiguous imagery to make it difficult to distinguish which side the dead and mutilated belong to.

Goya exercised a strong influence upon photographer James Nachtwey, a 21st century war photographer.

“Before I had finally decided to become a photographer I visited the Prado Museum in Madrid and happened upon Goya’s Disasters of War. They were etchings, made before the invention of photography, yet they depicted the barbarity of war with such immediacy, I saw a direction connection with the photographic images of my own time, and considered Goya to be the patriarch of war photographers even though he never used a camera,” said Nachtwey.

Nachtwey has captured images of more recent humanitarian crises, including natural disasters, violent conflicts, famines, genocide, and forced migration, on every continent. His photographs express the both the brutality of war and the beauty of life.

“It is easy, in this day and age when we are bombarded with stories of conflict and despair, to forget that mortality statistics, especially in times of war, represent a person. A father, mother, child, sister, partner, friend. Someone who had dreams and joys, desires and stories. In this exhibition, we are invited to take a closer look at aspects of the human condition in times of conflict,” said IIHA Executive Director, Brendan Cahill.

The IIHA expresses its sincere gratitude to James Nachtwey, who generously printed and loaned these images to the Institute for this exhibition; to Dr. John O’Neill, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books of The Hispanic Museum and Library, who reproduced original prints from the Library’s collection for the exhibition and gave critical advice the exhibition’s curation and design; to Fred Signore and the entire facilities staff at Fordham University who created the exhibition space; and to Kevin M. Cahill, M.D., our University Professor and Founder of the Institute, who acted as the impetus to bring this together.

Horrors of War is the first of many exhibitions that will explore issues of social justice and humanitarian action through art and expression.

It will be on display throughout the fall semester, Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM in Canisius Hall at 2546 Belmont Avenue, Fordham University Rose Hill.

Molly Brodowski, IIHA Communications and Graphic Design Intern

Angela Wells, IIHA Communications Officer

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IIHA Welcomes New Member of Academic Team to Undergraduate Humanitarian Studies Program

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs warmly welcomes Francois Servranckx to our academic team. He joins Fordham University as an instructor of Introduction to Humanitarian Action for Humanitarian Studies Major/Minor students.

The core class for Humanitarian Studies students covers essential elements of the humanitarian system, such as the motivation to act, the role and place of the beneficiaries and local responders, project management cycles, and current dilemmas facing humanitarian actors.

These topics are essential to understand of the current humanitarian scene and think about the future of the system, said Francois.

Francois comes to the Institute with 15 years of international experience managing humanitarian projects; responding to emergencies; and designing and implementing communication and public campaigns for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

My experience with humanitarian NGOs, UN agencies and private foundations will help me present a very practical and grounded picture of the most recent challenges faced by humanitarian actors. I hope to encourage students to think out of the box, to define new solutions and pave the way for the future of humanitarian action, saidFrancois who has worked in Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Senegal.

It’s a great opportunity to meet and work with the next generation of aid workers and young people interested in humanitarian affairs and global issues. It’s a great honor for me to join the IIHA, to be able to connect the dots between practice in the field and the great amount of analysis and knowledge the Institute has built  over the years, he said.

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World Humanitarian Day: Civilians Are Not A Target

 

August 18, 2017, New York – On World Humanitarian Day, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs stands with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the broader humanitarian community to denounce attacks against civilians and health and humanitarians workers in conflict – a rising and disastrous trend around the world.

According to the UN, “Over the past 20 years, 4,132 aid workers have been attacked. In 2016, 91 aid workers were killed, 88 were injured and 73 were kidnapped in the line of duty. The majority of these attacks took place in five countries: South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia.

Attacks against aid workers are deplorable and represent clear violations of international humanitarian law. In addition to endangering aid workers, these attacks threaten humanitarian operations and the lives of millions of people who rely on humanitarian assistance for their survival.”

Join us in calling on world leaders to protect civilians and those offering lifesaving assistance by joining the #NotATarget campaign. You can show your support by engaging in the conversation on social media, signing the World Humanitarian Day Petition, and reading the toolkit to learn more.

 

 

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IIHA Provides “Melting Pot of Information and People” to Network on Humanitarian Action Students

NOHA students Erik Lewerenz, Mu Chen, Stefanie Larsson, and Rebecca Lindqvist visit Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus with academic advisor Dr. Desiderio.

August 9, 2017, New York – For the third year since the initiation of a formal partnership, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs has hosted students from the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA) to conduct research under the guidance of IIHA Research Fellow, Rene Desiderio, Ph.D at Fordham University.

Over the course of the summer, four students – Mu Chen, Rebecca Lindqvist and Stefanie Larsson from Uppsala University and Erik Lewerenz from Ruhr-Universität Bochum – have been conducting research on topics ranging from the role of architecture in post-disaster areas to effective methods for cash-transfer programming.

This summer program is one of several initiatives and a deepening partnership between the IIHA and NOHA. This summer, the IIHA is hosting researcher Cristina Churruca, Ph.D, the Coordinator of NOHA Master’s Consortium of Universities on Humanitarian Assistance and an expert on human security, protection and peace building.

In addition, Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director, was recently selected as a member of NOHA’s Journal of International Humanitarian Action which aims to contribute to critical analysis and research that seeks to highlight contemporary challenges to humanitarian action.

For the summer NOHA students, studying at Fordham University has afforded them the opportunity to take advantage of the humanitarian network in New York City. Much of their research wouldn’t be possible without the proximity to the UN and humanitarian organizations of interest.

One student, Stefanie Larsson, is researching refugee resettlement in the United States and has found New York to be “a melting pot of information and people in many different areas of the humanitarian field.”

“A great part of the IIHA is the abundant amount of resources and knowledgeable people I have been connected with throughout my time in New York City at Fordham. I learned from the lecturers and was so encouraged to meet humanitarian workers…It made me very excited to get out in the field and start making a difference,” said Stefanie.

As the students near the end of their work at Fordham, they attribute the progress of their theses to the guidance of Dr. Desiderio who has helped them focus the structure of their research, refine their methodology, and, when possible, connect them with key informants on global humanitarian issues.

“The collaboration between the IIHA at Fordham and NOHA entails working closely with the students to chart a clear road map for their research that eventually leads to the completion of a thesis on a relevant and pressing humanitarian issue. Ultimately, we hope their research will contribute to the dearth of literature in the international humanitarian field,” said Dr. Desiderio.

“I would strongly recommend anyone to apply for a research track at Fordham University. Firstly because of the proximity to several large humanitarian organizations, especially the United Nations, which helps if your thesis would benefit from interviews with people situated in New York. Secondly, I would recommend it because of the valuable network one can build. Aside from the knowledge gained at lectures NOHA students are welcome to attend, participants of the summer courses are academics and practitioners from different organizations covering different geographical areas,” said Rebecca Lindqvist who is conducting her research on The Trust Principles for humanitarian operations in fragile states, specifically in the context of Somalia.

Johanna Lawton, IIHA Communications Intern

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IIHA and Centre for Innovation Partner to Strengthen Innovation for Humanity

August 3, 2017, New York – The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University is proud to announce a formal partnership with the Centre for Innovation (CFI) at Leiden University. This partnership will allow both organizations to broaden their exploration of technology and innovation from the humanitarian perspective.  Dedicated to advancing the methods and framework by which humanitarian workers operate, Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs in New York City continually strives to find practical and efficient responses to global crises. In this effort, the IIHA stimulates new strategies for the development of technology and inclusion of tech and private sectors in humanitarian action.

The Centre for Innovation at Leiden University located in The Hague, the Netherlands is a university do-tank that explores and creates projects at the intersection of education, technology, and society. Aiming to leverage the Data Revolution for the benefit of humanity, one of the Centre’s flagship projects is HumanityX. HumanityX is a multidisciplinary support team for pioneers in the peace, justice and humanitarian sector who want to spearhead digital innovations to tackle global challenges from a people’s perspective.

The partnership between the two organizations is strengthened by their shared commitment to education and technology that promotes social good and ethical humanitarian response through research, training, prototype development and events. Both institutions will further incorporate lessons and trainings in data, technology and innovation to their humanitarian curricula and projects with partners.

“The partnership with Leiden is a clear example of how by working together – by combining our intellectual resources and our wide range of contacts both within and outside the humanitarian sector – Fordham and Leiden will be able to do great things. Ultimately, what we both want is simple – to make humanitarian assistance as simple and as effective as possible,” said Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director.

“Structural collaboration between organizations like ours is critical so that we may align our efforts better, and make sure we can strengthen the humanitarian and educational ecosystem we are part of,” said Jorn Poldermans, Innovation Manager at Leiden University’s CFI.

The first initiative brought forth by the partnership was the first course in Data and Innovation Management in Humanitarian Action hosted at Fordham University in New York City where humanitarian workers learned from leading data, technology and innovation experts from all over the world.

Upcoming collaborations include the annual summer school entitled Big Data for Peace and Justice hosted at Leiden University in August and a blockchain summit in conjunction with the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise & Governance in New York City on November 10, 2017.

Furthermore, IIHA Innovation Fellow, Giulio Coppi, and CFI Innovation Manager, Jorn Poldermans, will collaborate to produce joint research on technological trends within the humanitarian space and design prototypes for humanitarian practitioners.

Ultimately, both organizations hope to contribute to humanitarian interventions that build on the most impactful technological advances of the century for the benefit of crisis-affected populations they aim to serve.

Join the 4th Annual Summer School Big Data for Peace & Justice in The Hague and expand knowledge and skills in data-driven innovations in the peace, justice, and humanitarian sector.

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Press contact
Angela Wells
Communications Officer
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
+718-817-5303

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Ruth Jebb, Humanitarian Nurse and IDHA Alumna, Awarded Florence Nightingale Medal for Exceptional Courage and Devotion

Ruth Jebb at work during a cholera outbreak in Torit, South Sudan

July 17, 2017, New York – In her everyday life in Brisbane, Australia, Ruth Jebb (IDHA 37 alumna) works as a Clinical Nurse Consultant at a large tertiary hospital, but when disaster strikes abroad she takes on the role of nurse and midwife as an emergency responder deployed with the Red Cross and the Australian Medical Assistance Team.

Throughout her myriad of deployments she has provided lifesaving care during earthquakes in New Zealand and Nepal, typhoons in the Philippines, conflict in South Sudan, cholera outbreaks in Chad, among other trying situations. More recently, she has focused on training local health care responders in community health provision, psychosocial support, and maternal, neonatal and child health care.

Twelve years after beginning her humanitarian health care career in northern Kenya, Ruth was awarded the prestigious Florence Nightingale Medal this past May. The award acknowledges five Australians who have shown “exceptional courage and devotion to the sick, wounded or disabled in conflict or disaster zones.”

She was selected by a commission of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Council of Nurses.

Whether at home or in humanitarian situations abroad, Ruth remains committed to her responsibility to “support, mentor, teach and lead.” However, in humanitarian settings, the distinct lack of access to resources, intense workloads and contextual differences poses a more severe set of challenges.

“Back at home, I often take it for granted that we work in a protected environment, where people are able to access quality health care safely and efficiently. We have all the resources we need to provide care to those who need it. Often, when working in developing contexts and post-disaster environments, it can be heartbreaking hearing the stories of people travelling for days to reach health care facilities, or of those who never make it, often with ailments that require simple life-saving and life-changing interventions.  It can be confronting not being able to provide the same standard of care that we are so accustomed to back home.”

Security issues further impede these efforts, often adding another layer of complexity.

“Although personal safety is a priority it can be incredibly frustrating to be limited by security incidents that are occurring either directly or indirectly, especially when it involves life and death situations amongst the community you are there to assist.”

In 2007, she was deployed on a nine-month mission to manage the ICRC’s Therapeutic Feeding Center in Gereida, Darfur. Home to close to 145,000 internally displaced persons, Gereida was “a challenging mission, not only as a result of the direct impact of looking after so many unwell, undernourished and often dying children, but also because of the ongoing security risks that were a reality of our day-to-day life.”

Ruth recalls one incident when her vehicle was hijacked at gunpoint. She escaped the situation unscathed, but the access the team was allowed to have in that location was consequently impeded, drastically affecting the impact of their mission.

In spite of such challenges, Ruth managed patient intake and triaged thousands of patients in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, the deadliest in the country on record killing 6,300 people. She also coordinated the activities of four Red Cross hospitals and 6 mobile health units following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

On these missions, her main objective has been to offer training to local health care workers in pursuit of more sustainable disaster relief.

“Supporting and prioritizing capacity building is paramount in disaster response.  Not only does mentoring and training become an avenue for relationship building, but it also enhances local capacity for future disaster responses.  Committing to developing the skills and training of the local staff is also key to engagement and acceptance,” she said.

Honored to receive this award, Ruth accredits the motivation for her work to groups like the Australian Red Cross, who have an “unwavering commitment to helping those in need, whether it be locally or in our backyard, or in the context of an international humanitarian crisis.”

“For me the Red Cross embraces the responsibility of placing value upon humanity,” she says.

Ruth Jebb is an alumna of the IIHA’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance.

Angela Wells, IIHA Communications Officer

Johanna Lawton, IIHA Communications Intern

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Job Alert: Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow

The Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) is a university-wide center that reports directly to the President of Fordham University. By incorporating the academic rigor and intellectual standard of Fordham University with the experience and expertise of humanitarian aid and development agencies in the field, we endeavor to advance the methods and framework by which humanitarian workers operate. As such, we serve as a unique bridge between academia and humanitarian efforts worldwide.

Our mission is to train and educate current and future aid workers at local, regional, national, and international levels. We accomplish this through undergraduate and graduate programs that equip individuals with the tools needed to respond thoughtfully and effectively in times of crisis, conflict, and disaster. We also publish on a wide range of humanitarian topics and regularly host events that further create an increased understanding of global humanitarian crises through critical analysis and shared experiential knowledge.

The Institute invites applications for a renewable grant funded non-tenure track teaching Fellowship, the Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow (HHSF) at Fordham University.

RESPONSIBILITIES

The HHSF:

  • Participates in the development, management, and implementation of the Institute’s academic and training programs, with specific responsibilities for teaching and coordinating the academic aspects of the Institute’s undergraduate and graduate curricula at Fordham University.
  • Serves as instructor of record for six courses per academic year (generally 3 in fall, 3 in spring) for the Institute’s undergraduate major and potentially the anticipated M.S. program.
  • Coordinates with University faculty contributing to the Institute’s undergraduate and graduate curricular programs on annual course scheduling.
  • Manages undergraduate major and senior thesis advising, in tandem with University faculty contributing to the Institute’s undergraduate and graduate curricular programs.
  • May, in the course of his/her work, explore and develop partnerships with the United Nations, with other organizations, and with other agencies interested in humanitarian affairs.
  • Works to continue the vision of the Institute’s founders that the multi-disciplinary field of humanitarian assistance must be professionalized and its global impact expanded.
  • Represents the Institute’s undergraduate curricular programs via the University College Council.
  • Represents the Institute at symposia or meetings (e.g. within Fordham, locally, nationally, or internationally) as needed.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Ph.D. or highest terminal degree in a subject relevant to humanitarian action preferred.
  • The ideal candidate should have significant relevant experience in both an academic setting and in the humanitarian field.
  • The ideal candidate will be thoroughly familiar with the roles of existing major players in humanitarian work, including the United Nations, relevant governmental agencies, and nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions.

SALARY: Commensurate with experience

 SEND LETTER & RESUME:

Brendan Cahill
Executive Director
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
Fordham University
 brcahill@fordham.edu

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Robert De Niro to 2017 IDHA Graduates: “You Are My Heroes”

In his commencement address to the 50th graduating class of Fordham’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro urged the humanitarian aid workers to let their “inner humanitarian” guide them into making the world a better place.

The ceremony, held on June 30 at the Lincoln Center campus, honored 25 IDHA graduates and two recipients of the Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action program. The students hailed from 17 countries around the world, including Italy, Tajikistan, New Zealand, Egypt, Poland, and Pakistan.

Before addressing the graduates, the Oscar-winning actor, whose film credits include Taxi Driver, The Godfather: Part II, Raging Bull, and who appeared most recently as Bernard Madoff in HBO’s The Wizard of Lies, commended his longtime friend Kevin Cahill, M.D., IIHA’s founder, as a “man of great culture and enormous warmth.”

“Like many of you, he had an instinct for finding himself in places where the need was greatest,” De Niro said.

The actor told the graduates that they too were “true humanitarians” because they “served with compassion and dignity” while making sacrifices and taking “heroic risks.”

“Now you’ve gone through this program so that you can perform your work more effectively,” he said. “You have distinguished yourself here, and you will take those lessons with you for the rest of your life.”

De Niro, who received an honorary diploma, said that while many people might solely deem humanitarian workers as “wonderful people doing heroic work,” he considered them “shining examples of what can be achieved when you find the humanitarian hidden inside.”

“By inspiring others, you increase your impact exponentially,” he said before reading the names of the entire graduating class. “You are my heroes,” he told them.

Bart Vermeiren, who delivered the IDHA participant address, said completing the program is a huge milestone.

“We all embark on a new or old journey in our lives, but one day or another, sooner or later, we will use our IDHA wisdom and put it into practice with our learning experiences to the benefit of ourselves, and, most importantly, to the benefit of the people in need,” he said.

It’s a message that resonated with Naomi Gikonyo, a humanitarian practitioner with nearly a decade of experience in emergency response interventions in countries including Haiti, Libya, South Sudan, and Kenya.

“This program has pushed me to apply a lot of what I’ve learned into the field,” said Gikonyo, who works as an emergency preparedness and response officer for the United Nations World Food Programme. “It’s instrumental because we’re dealing with humanitarian crises with high complexities.”

Dr. Cahill told the graduates not to be afraid of the challenges ahead. “You have the ability to go over barriers, to not be blocked in by academic barriers or those barriers that separate us from each other,” he said.

After 20 years of courses and 3,000 participants representing 140 nationalities, Larry Hollingworth, director of humanitarian programs at Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, which runs the IDHA program, said IDHA continues to create impact.

“We are in that unique position that we’re not in uniform, but we find ourselves on the front line,” he told the graduates, whom he said are leading emergency medicine in makeshift hospitals, opening schools in remote camps, and “staying on when others have left.”

“Stand up for you values, and your beliefs. Do what you want to do. Be bold and be brave.”

This article was originally published by Fordham News.

 

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Practitioner Profile: Martine van der Does bridges humanitarian action and architectural design

New York, June 14, 2017 – An architect by trade, Martine van der Does now employs her unique expertise on functional design to improve the shelters that protect millions of people displaced from or affected by humanitarian crises around the world.

At the end of June, she will receive a Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action from Fordham University. We spoke with her about her interesting career path and the potential of design for humanitarian action.

What is the path you’ve taken in your career?

I grew up in the Netherlands and studied architecture, specializing in renovation and restoration. I did my Master’s thesis on the renovation of a Franciscan convent in Brazil.

Soon after that, I began volunteering in Africa and this is where my humanitarian career really began. After this, I returned to university to research emergency shelter models and then later continued my work in the field by taking a job as a construction logistician with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Niger.

I later secured a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Africa Department for the government of the Netherlands. In this role, I worked in Kabul, Afghanistan on various development projects, among which was the construction of a prison and air terminal.

I then moved back to The Hague where I am now mainly involved in the allocation of Dutch aid for direct response. I am the point of contact between the Ministry and the Red Cross movement. I am also an expert on the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination and on the roster of the European Civil Protection Mechanisms and can be deployed in an emergency.

Why did you make the switch from architecture to humanitarian work?

Not many trained architects end up working in humanitarian aid. But at some point, I just decided that I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I realized that I’m among the two percent of the world’s population that has had the opportunities I have. I wanted to use my skills to do something significant. I also get a lot of personal fulfillment from it, I love traveling, getting to know other cultures, and the adventure side of it.

In your humanitarian career, what has been the main difference between working for an NGO like MSF vs. in a government ministry for humanitarian assistance?

MSF is a very principled organization where beneficiaries always come first, but in government ministries there is always some level of political influence.

The other major difference between the two experiences was the level of insecurity. At the time I was in Niger, I was not in a conflict area and, especially working with MSF, I was able to engage with the community. We did have security restrictions in Niger, but I could move more freely than when I was in Afghanistan where I couldn’t move without security personnel. Attacks happened on a weekly basis; I could hear bombings and shootings regularly. When visiting projects in the field I often felt like an alien, because I was wearing a flak jacket and a helmet with a military escort. As a result, it took more effort to get to know people and to have an equal conversation.

What is the most significant lesson you’ve learned in the field?

One lesson is to always be yourself, but also be as respectful and observant to cultural norms as possible. Also, I really learned to be alert but trusting of others who sometimes have my life in their hands. When I am on mission with the government, our security officers are the ones making decisions about my security. I have to trust that if a security officer tells me that going to a meeting or on a field visit – no matter how important – is not safe, then I have to trust them.

What do you see for the future of humanitarian response?

Ideally, we wouldn’t need humanitarian response anymore, but this idealism is not very realistic as we look at the progressing crises of the world. Right now, a lot of support for humanitarian response comes from Western donors such as the European Union and the United States, but we need to diversify by reinforcing national and regional structures in disaster and conflict-affected areas so they have a greater capacity to deal with humanitarian crises. Local communities know the people, environment, culture, and places, so building up the local capacities through training should be the direction of the future.

I saw this work very well when I worked with MSF. I was on a team of construction engineers with people who grew up in Niger. They had received some education, but never had the opportunities to go abroad to study. MSF really prioritized training and offering courses to these national staff members. There was one man I worked with who was more knowledgeable than I and who I was really privileged to work with and learn from.  I recommended that he get more training and last year he emailed me to say that he did this training and has been promoted to an international staff member. This is the way I think organizations should allow their staff members to grow and the way that leadership within humanitarian agencies should be built.

Why did you decide to get more training and join the Master’s in International Humanitarian Action with Fordham?

In 2008, I joined the IDHA course in Geneva with the goal of entering the humanitarian field. I then enrolled in the Humanitarian Negotiators Course in Barcelona and I stayed in touch with Larry and the other students working in the field.

After I returned from Afghanistan in 2014, I heard that Fordham had started the Master’s in International Humanitarian Action program. I joined to continue with my training. The Institute really feels like a family and has given me the opportunity to reflect and look at certain subjects in the field on a deeper level than I can in my workplace.

Receiving the chance to really discuss humanitarian issues with people in field who each carry diverse perspectives adds a lot of value to my work, too. These perspectives often come from NGO or UN workers and are really enriching for me as an employee of a national ministry. My fellow students have given me a lot of insight into how other organizations work and the challenges they are facing.

Do you have any examples of this coming to life in practice?

When I arrived to respond to the earthquake in Nepal, I realized one of my tutors from the IDHA was leading the efforts of the International Federation of the Red Cross. Because I knew them and had worked with them, I began from a different point and this was very useful. I made the use of this network often in my work and for research for my thesis.

What issues did you research in your thesis for the Master’s degree?

Previously, I researched innovative materials for emergency shelters, but I did not have any humanitarian experience. Once I had worked in the sector, I wanted to merge my former background to develop a process for identifying design requirements for emergency shelters in humanitarian settings. This requires a lot of investigation and consideration because unlike building a house, you have logistical and cultural requirements that provoke a different set of standards.

My goal was to identify these requirements and look through history to see if architects have taken humanitarian standards into account in the past in their humanitarian designs. I also looked at the different standards organizations use for emergency shelters, such as the Sphere standards; gathered a lot of feedback from practitioners in the field; and analyzed the latest versions of emergency shelters, like the IKEA shelter for refugee camps.

I used all this information to develop a list of seven design requirements that constitute an ideal shelter in humanitarian settings.

Now that you have completed your MIHA degree, what is next for you?

I plan to take a year off from the Ministry to get back to the NGO sector as a delegate at International Committee of the Red Cross. I think I have more of an NGO heart than a political one.

I hope to one day lecture for the IDHA, too. I really appreciate the commitment of Larry and Tony and all the other people involved, and I feel it is also my responsibility to give back to the program.

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