As highlighted in the UN-World Bank report Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict, the number of violent conflicts has increased since 2010, thus raising the question of how violence and its escalation can be prevented. Conflict prevention mechanisms exist. Let’s take a look at Early Warning and Response Systems (EWRS), but first, what is early warning and early response?
The nature of conflict is changing. Fighting has taken on new forms, often involving a burgeoning constellation of armed groups operating in increasingly complex threat environments that feature not only state armies, but non-state armed groups, criminal gangs, drug-traffickers, and groups designated as terrorist organizations. These actors employ new communications and weapons technologies, and frequently operate across national borders.
Every day, more than 44,000 people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. In some humanitarian settings, sexual violence—by both partners and non-partners—is also exacerbated.
Girls’ mobility is often restricted, and rates of child marriage may increase. Women and girls can experience violence at every stage of their journeys, including at camps, transit countries, when they reach their destinations, and when they return home to a war-ravaged setting.
Despite these challenges, to date there has been very little research to identify effective interventions to prevent and address GBV in humanitarian settings.
On a visit last year to the East region of Cameroon, a traditional leader we met in the municipality of Garoua-Boulai impressed us with their efforts to help refugees.
“We were the first to welcome our Central African brothers. We live at the border, so they came to us. There were women, children… tired, some injured. Most of them had to abandon everything, and travelled only with the clothes they wore. They are our brothers, so we welcomed them. We gave them a place to settle down, some farm a small plot of land,” he said.
Across the world, the movement of people is an increasingly urban phenomenon. As such, researchers are beginning to recognize that the developmental consequences of migration are often felt most acutely at the municipal or provincial level. A newly published study Mixed Migration, Forced Displacement and Job Outcomes in South Africa, adds to the growing body of research on movement to cities by highlighting the important urban dimensions of these movements into and within South Africa.
When refugees arrive, everything changes for the hosting community. Suddenly, there are large numbers of people who need to use your hospital, your school, and collect water from the same source. You know that they have suffered a traumatic experience, but you may start blaming the newcomers for the pressures that they bring to your community, causing tensions and raising the possibility of potential conflict.
This week, I attended the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This annual gathering provides an opportunity for the international community to discuss some of the most pressing global challenges, innovative solutions to address them and progress since last year.
I had the chance to participate in several key events on Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV). Since 2010, the number of major violent conflicts has tripled, and the fragility landscape is becoming even more complex. Violent extremism, climate change, pandemics and food insecurity are on the rise. Conflicts drive 80 percent of all humanitarian needs.
When considering support for refugees and their host communities, gender based violence (GBV) is a great concern that requires special care and attention.
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls is all too common in many countries across the globe. Drivers of GBV include entrenched social norms that perpetuate power imbalances between men and women, and more generally circumscribe women’s agency and voice in communities and in the home. Despite a recent increase in reporting, data suggest that 45 percent of women who have experienced GBV did not seek help or tell anyone, and there are striking regional differences.
Humanitarian organizations have very tough choices to make when it comes to deciding who receives assistance. In principle, humanitarian assistance should be for everyone, but with all the crises going on in the world today, budgetary support for these kinds of operations cannot keep up with the rapidly growing need for assistance.
As efforts continue to improve the global response to forced displacement, the World Bank Group and UNHCR are setting up a new joint data center that will better support refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless people, returnees, asylum-seekers, and host communities. The two organizations recently agreed to establish the center in Copenhagen based on recommendations from an independent selection panel, backed by a generous contribution from the government of Denmark.
Why a new data center? With all the data that is available today, you may wonder why anyone would need more data. What kind of data are we talking about here, and wouldn’t this overlap with what other organizations are doing already?