Concept Note on Humanitarian Notification in Support of Access and Protection in Syria April 2021 This OCHA concept note outlines the purpose of and key considerations related to humanitarian notification in support of access and protection in Syria. It is tailored to the specific context and may not necessarily apply in other contexts.
This note may be updated as required.
Rationale for humanitarian notification
Humanitarian notification in Syria is one of the ways in which OCHA actively supports the humanitarian community in facilitating humanitarian assistance and advocating for the protection of persons affected by the armed conflict. It is part of a range of tools that OCHA uses to engage with parties to the armed conflict. Humanitarian notification informs parties to the armed conflict of the location of a select category of civilian facilities, movements and infrastructure entitled to protection under international humanitarian law (IHL). In situations of active hostilities, and especially where the parties are using air power or long-range weaponry, facilitating the identification of such facilities, movements and infrastructure can maximize the opportunity for the parties to factor them into military operations with a view to avoiding harm or impediments to them. Humanitarian notification does not change the IHL obligations of the parties to the armed conflict, as described below.
Scope of humanitarian notification
In Syria, humanitarian notification covers:
a) Static facilities that fulfill a humanitarian function, such as humanitarian organizations’ offices and warehouses.
b) The movements of humanitarian staff and supplies (e.g. convoys) as well as emergency evacuations / Medevacs coordinated by humanitarian actors.
c) Critical civilian infrastructure on a case-by-case basis. This is typically reserved for civilian objects that are indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, such as health facilities, water and electrical stations. In reaching a decision to notify critical civilian infrastructure, partners are encouraged to assess against criteria of criticality, including the foreseeable humanitarian impact if it is harmed, the risk of harm, the urgency of risk, and whether notification is accompanied by other approaches to ensure parties to the armed conflict are aware of the location and critical function of the civilian object. The humanitarian notification system does not comprehensively cover all facilities, movements and infrastructure within these three categories. Humanitarian partners submit information for notification on a voluntary basis, based on their respective operational and risk assessments.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.