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International Diploma In Humanitarian Assistance

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Media reports and images inundate the world with humanitarian crises: refugees drowning at sea, populations ravaged by famine, and seemingly endless conflicts. Collective and coordinated responses to humanitarian crises have never been more essential. Good intentions to respond and act must be informed by practical experience, technical knowledge, and academic critique.

Grounded in social justice and humanitarian ethics, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University endeavors to make the global response to humanitarian crises more sustainable, effective, and dignified. Through the intersection of critical academic analysis and concrete hands-on experience, we believe that humanitarian action can transform the world.

Photo provided by IDHA Alumnus Rahul Singh, Founder of GlobalMedic Mission

The International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), the flagship program of the IIHA, equips mid-career humanitarian professionals to drive the humanitarian sector of the future in a more innovative direction. For 20 years, the IIHA has trained thousands of humanitarian workers in cities around the world – from Kathmandu to Amman, Geneva to Cairo.

This June the IIHA will commence its 50th IDHA course in New York City and we want you to join us! IDHA 50 students will join a cohort of diverse and highly qualified aid and development professionals from all over the world in a one-month intensive course to receive one-of-a-kind training from world-renowned experts in the humanitarian field.

The course provides the critical skills and knowledge to more effectively intervene in the complex emergency and protracted crises of the 21st century. The curriculum is highly interactive and participants will gain:

  • Extensive insight to the needs of people affected by conflict, disaster, and displacement;
  • Skills in facilitating cooperation and dialogue between international, governmental, and non-governmental agencies;
  • Awareness, understanding, and skills essential for effective service in emergency and protracted humanitarian crises;
  • Opportunities to collaborate and network with colleagues working for diverse international, governmental, and non-governmental humanitarian agencies;
  • Tools to evaluate interventions and identify examples of good practice; and
  • Methods for anticipating and preventing humanitarian crises.

Upon completion of the course, graduates will receive eight graduate level credits accepted towards a Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action at Fordham University, or potentially their studies at other academic institutions.

Course Fee: $5,500 includes tuition, course materials, lodging, and all weekday meals for one month.

Applications are still open for the New York course in June and another IDHA course in Vienna, Austria from November 5 to December 1, 2017.

Visit the IIHA website to learn more and apply.

Housed at Fordham, the Jesuit University of New York, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) educates a future generation of humanitarians in the classroom, shapes humanitarian leaders in the field, and innovates solutions to challenges in humanitarian crises.

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Syrian Voices: Customs and Traditions in Humanitarian Crises

Monday, March 6, 2017 – As conflict wages on in Syria, nearby countries have opened their doors to millions of new people seeking refuge. In Lebanon, one in four people is a Syrian refugee. While Lebanon is the biggest host of the five million Syrian refugees globally, truly integrating their neighbors into society has proved challenging for the small country where economic strains and competition for scarce resources is ever increasing.

House of Peace (HOPe) in Syria is striving to understand and address the evolving relationships of displaced persons within refugee populations, amongst their host communities and with non-governmental organizations.

Their new report, Syrian Voices, aims to raise voices, analyze opinions and propose positive recommendations for advancing integration and social peacebuilding. HOPe conducted workshops with around 300 participants, most of whom were Syrian refugees living in Lebanon but also Palestinians and Lebanese host community members.

“The main impetus behind this paper is helping people concerned with the Syrian crisis to see things from the eyes of those who are suffering the most; to contribute in bringing people from different points of views closer by helping them overcoming their prejudices and self-evident beliefs,” said Elias Sadkni, Director of HOPe and International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance 39 alumnus.

Restrictions to integration. A major finding of the report was the ways in which government policy and NGO modus-operandi surrounding refugee response in Lebanon have changed the ways in which Syrian communities relate each other and their hosts.

Strict residency and labor laws for Syrians in Lebanon have made securing employment particularly difficult for men. Women, however, are more easily able to find work opportunities in the informal labor market and through the support of vocational trainings and services provided by organizations.

Perhaps even more disconcerting was the effect that strict work restrictions had on fueling forced marriage or labor on children in the country. In 2016, some NGOs estimated between 60 and 70 percent of refugee children are working and Human Rights Watch reported that more than 250,000 Syrian children were out of school in Lebanon.

“Harsh regulations that prevent most refugees from maintaining legal residency or working are undermining Lebanon’s generous school enrollment policies…With 70 percent of Syrian families living below the poverty line in 2015, many cannot afford school-related costs like transportation and school supplies, or rely on their children to work,” said Human Rights Watch.

The Syrian Voices report reiterated this point adding that “participants felt Humanitarian and UN efforts are not prioritizing educational establishments for Syrian refugees; in addition to this issue, the majority of educational establishments in Lebanon refuse to accept Syrians.”

Blurring cultures. Despite the challenges that come with displacement, Syrian participants also expressed that social solidarity amongst their communities remained strong in exile. This solidarity at times extended into their relationships with their host communities, and in turn caused the lines between Syrian and Lebanese cultures to blur.

“Many participants felt that adapting to Lebanese culture is causing changes in the customs and traditions of Syrian refugees. Some expressed dismay at these changes, fear their permanency, and believe they have been a source of intra-communal tension, whilst others embrace them,” said the report.

Improved humanitarian intervention. Other focus groups with NGO representatives examined the complex role NGOs play in the Syrian crisis.

Representatives voiced concerns that “their presence at times has contributed to existing tensions or created new ones”, because they failed to partake in adequate contextual and cultural analyses before implementing projects. Others noted a lack of transparency between donors and the community.

Syria Voices ultimately concludes in a list of recommendations for the humanitarian community to improve their continuing intervention, suggesting that humanitarian organizations begin to truly address the root causes of suffering amongst Syrians in Lebanon by:

  • Ensuring and advocating for equal access to adult education, vocational training and employment opportunities for Syrian adults of both genders;
  • Developing mechanisms for effective child protection from exploitation;
  • Enhancing educational opportunities for children;
  • Truly engaging with Syrian and Lebanese communities to better understand conflict
  • Improving communication methods between agencies in order to learn from each other’s experiences and best practices; and
  • Promoting more positive and less stereotypically harmful narratives about Syrian refugees in Lebanese media.

Ultimately, HOPe believes this report can be a guiding resource for the humanitarian sector, one that encourages agencies to question and improve their increasingly important response to the Syrian crisis.

Syrian Voices is a research-initiated project aimed at spreading Syrian perspectives on issues of social peace. The goal of the paper is to inform the humanitarian community, allowing stakeholders to implement recommendations and best practices to help resolve conflict in Syria and surrounding areas.

Andrew Seger, IIHA Communications Intern

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IDHA Reunion in Budapest!

Mark Szabó, Dávid Gál, Anna Szenczy, Sándor Horváth

IIHA International Programs Specialist, Suzanne Arnold, recently caught up with Mark Szabó (IDHA 42)Dávid Gál (IDHA 34, MIHA), Anna Szenczy (IDHA 45, MIHA), and Sándor Horváth (IDHA 47) at the Hungarian Baptist Aid offices in Budapest.

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Alumni Update: Timo Luege (IDHA 21)

After four months leading a team for the UNHCR Communicating with Communities Team in Greece,  Timo Luege (IDHA 21) is back in Berlin. In his most recent blog posts, Timo talks about why refugees need smartphones , highlights the widespread use and increasing potential of Whatsapp, and reviews and tests  SMS platforms  and influencer outreach platforms  to determine the best platforms for communication and outreach in humanitarian response.

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IDHA 44 Reunion in Kathmandu

Mukesh Singh and James Tan, IDHA 44 Graduates

“Wonderful meeting my IDHA 44 friend James Tan in Kathmandu. Remembered you all my fellow IDHA 44 mates and missing those lovely days in Geneva in 2015. Hope to catch you all one day. James is doing such a great humanitarian job for the Nepal earthquakes victims in Dhading and Sindhupalchowk districts. Very much appreciated his efforts for the people in Nepal.” – Mukesh Singh

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Alumni Update: Joe Lowry (IDHA 12)

Joe Lowry“I’m just back in Bangkok with finally a little time to digest an amazing mission to Afghanistan with IOM. The arid beauty of the land and the wonderful welcome of its people are the top takeaways, but so were the ‘small world’ coincidences.” –Joe Lowry (IDHA 12) writes about his latest mission in his blog.

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IIHA International Programs Specialist Reunites with IDHA 47 Participants in NY!

Suzanne and Tatiana

Ellen, Radhika, and Suzanne

IDHA summers in New York! Amidst the busy days of the 48th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) and short courses including Ethics of Humanitarian Assistance, Accountability in Humanitarian Action, and Leadership and Management of Humanitarian Action Suzanne Arnold (IIHA International Programs Specialist) reunited with several of IDHA 47 participants including Tatiana AspinwallRadhika Shah and Ellen Lesh, and Cindy Coffman.

Suzanne and Cindy Coffman

Suzanne and Cindy (during a brief pause from the Leadership and Management course to celebrate Cindy’s birthday)

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Alumni Update: Daniela Traldi (IDHA 40)

As the Olympics once again claimed its summer presence in media outlets across the globe, Daniela Traldi (IDHA 40) authored two articles for the BBC about the prevailing spirit of the Olympics amidst a challenging time for its host country, Brazil, and the strong bond among women athletes as seen through the social media accounts of star athletes.

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Alumni Update: Fausto Aarya De Santis (IDHA 44, IDHA Tutor)

Fausto De SantisFausto Aarya De Santis (IDHA 44, IDHA Tutor) recently co-authored a paper on enhancing community engagement within situations of armed conflict, which was released by the Community Engagement Working Group in Yemen. View the infographic!


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Alumni Update: Andy McElroy (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer)

In a recent article for UNISDR, Andy McElroy (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer) talks about the importance of the Hotel Resilient Initiative in creating safe situations and heightened response efforts in places where there is a high level of tourism. In another article, Andy discusses the Mongolian launch of public-private partnership for disaster relief.

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