Principles of engagement for emergency humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The worsening humanitarian situation in the democratic Republic of Congo, in particular in the Eastern part of the country, together with increased security risks both to personnel and assets of humanitarian agencies, made it necessary to seek consensus on a common approach to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, based on the application of a set of agreed principles. This set of principles aims at increasing the efficiency and the pertinence of the delivered aid and maximising the humanitarian space for the relied community.
The set of principles is addressed to the international Humanitarian community as well as to the political and military authorities. General overarching principles are defined under 1) while some general protocols, mainly on accessibility, security and types of interventions, monitoring and evaluation are mentioned under 2)
1) Overarching Principles
The present document, together with the 'Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief', which most assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its guiding principle is... ' The right to receive humanitarian assistance and to offer it is a fundamental humanitarian principle, which should be enjoyed by all citizens of all countries. As members of the international community, we recognise our obligation to provide humanitarian assistance wherever it is needed. Hence the need for unimpeded access to affected populations, is of fundamental importance in exercising that responsibility. The prime motivation of our response to disaster is to alleviate human suffering amongst those least able to withstand the stress caused by disaster. When we give humanitarian aid, it is no a partisan or political act and should not be viewed as such'... (Reference: Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in disaster relief, 7/9/98, p.2)
Aid will be delivered without discrimination as to ethnicity, religious beliefs or political opinion. Humanitarian assistance should be provided solely on the basis of needs.
Neutrality-Apolitical nature of humanitarian aid:
Aid agencies will be neutral in providing humanitarian assistance and must stress the apolitical nature of humanitarian assistance. The action of aid agencies will not imply recognition of or confer legitimacy of the authority in control of the area in which humanitarian assistance is provided.
The assistance provided will be depended solely on needs, giving priority to the most urgent and stressing situations, and will not be influenced by political, economic or military considerations.
The promotion of human rights is an essential part of humanitarian assistance and may range from passive monitoring of respect for human rights to pro-active human rights advocacy. These activities will be guided by International Human Law and by the mandates given by International Instruments to various humanitarian organisations such as UNHCHR, UNHCR, and ICRC.
Beneficiaries, local partners and local structures should be involved, wherever possible, in the need assessment, provision and monitoring of humanitarian emergency assistance, so as to provide sustainability in the long term.
Participating agencies commit themselves to enhanced co-ordination and mutual support using the existing co-ordination mechanisms.
Humanitarian programmes and aid agencies operating in the country must be totally transparent in all their workings and dealings with relevant authorities. Transparency should be archieved through the regular flow of information to the relevant authorities and vice versa. This principle should be applied without prejudice to the security of the beneficiaries.
Implementing partners hold themselves accountable to both those they seek to assist and those from whom they accept resources.
Freedom of access:
Parties to the conflict should ensure unimpeded access for assessment, delivery and monitoring of humanitarian aid to potential beneficiaries. The assistance to affected areas should be provided in the most efficient manner and by the most accessible routes.
The relevant authorities are responsible for creating conditions conducive to the implementing of humanitarian activities. This must cover the security of local and international staff as well as all assets. The restitution of requisitioned assets is an essential indication of the goodwill of the authorities. Agencies look to the local authorities to take responsibilities for ensuring the return of assets wherever possible. The security of the civil population in conflict zones is the responsibility of the relevant authorities.
Armed escorts should only be used as a last resort for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in areas of serious insecurity. The co-ordinating body should evaluate the need for an armed escort on a case by case basis.
Joint assessments and types of intervention:
Where possible basic humanitarian needs and beneficiaries will be identified though joint assessment missions, which would also define the necessary package of assistance to mitigate and prevent life threatening situations. Interventions will involve local communities, wherever possible, and be designed to strengthen existing local capacities.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
Monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian assistance will be jointly undertaken by aid agencies and local partners, in cooperation with donors. Mechanisms will be put in place to monitor compliance with the principles of engagement.
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