Humanitarian action in the Middle East
by Humanitarian Practice Network September 2011

The special feature of this issue of Humanitarian Exchange focuses on humanitarian action in the Middle East.

As Abdul Haq Amiri emphasises in the lead article, recent political unrest has highlighted the need for humanitarians to engage in new ways of thinking and working in the Middle East. Responding effectively to the needs generated by these largely urban crises requires much greater understanding of the context and culture, more respectful partnerships with local NGOs and civil society and much more substantive engagement with regional organisations. Other issues explored in this edition include the impact of movement restrictions in Gaza, analysed in a report by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA). Kate Washington reflects on the provision of assistance to Iraqi refugees in Jordan, and Géraldine Chatelard outlines the shortcomings of current urban refugee policies. Colin Lee discusses mental health provision in Lebanon, and the challenges involved in working with women-headed households in Iraq are analysed by Caroline Douillez. Finally, Caroline Abu-Sada describes how Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) has adapted its approach to providing emergency medical care to different country contexts in the Middle East.

The practice and policy section of this issue contains articles exploring how the discourse around cash transfer programming exposes the biases of the international humanitarian community;  the role of faith-based communities in responding to HIV in emergencies; ways in which the international community can support the expansion of humanitarian space for local NGOs in Myanmar; developing inter-agency Disaster Risk Reduction approaches and tools in Bolivia; providing cash to micro-entrepreneurs to meet post-conflict needs in Kyrgyzstan; using small-scale solar energy solutions to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to sexual violence in Haiti; and integrating conflict mitigation into the INEE minimum standards for education.

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