Humanitarian Notification System Supporting Access and Protection Standard Operating Procedures for humanitarian actors on the notification process in Syria April 2020 [EN/AR]

Manual and Guideline
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The Humanitarian Notification System in Support of Access and Protection in Syria is one of the means by which OCHA actively supports the humanitarian community in facilitating international humanitarian assistance and advocating for the protection of persons affected by the armed conflict. It informs parties to the armed conflict of the location of civilian objects that fulfill a humanitarian function, of movements of humanitarian staff and supplies, and of critical civilian infrastructure. In situations of active hostilities, and especially where the parties are using air power or long‐range weaponry, facilitating the identification of such objects and movements 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.

Who may submit for notification

Humanitarian partners participating in the Inter‐Agency Standing Committee (IASC) coordination system in Syria are eligible to submit notifications via OCHA’s Humanitarian Notification Team (HNT). On a case‐ by‐case basis, submissions by bona fide organizations outside the IASC coordination system may be considered.

What may be submitted for notification

Submissions for notification must concern civilian objects that fulfill a humanitarian function at the time of submission, and which humanitarian partners administer, support or operate.

Notification of critical civilian infrastructure is done on a case‐by‐case basis. It 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 deciding decision whether to notify such an object, partners should 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 conflict are aware of the location and critical function of the object.

Submissions for notification of movements must concern those that fulfill a humanitarian function at the time of the submission, and which humanitarian partners participate in.

The name of the organization that administers, supports or operates the notified facility, or participates in the notified movement, should be included in the notification to the party.

With limited presence in parts of Syria, OCHA is not in a position to verify the accuracy of all the information provided by humanitarian partners. Partners are tasked with ensuring the accuracy of the data submitted to OCHA. The accuracy of the information, including identifying the names of the facilities as relevant, underpins the credibility of the notification system. OCHA also asks partners to validate the coordinates of the locations (see below: Processing a submission for notification)

Where to submit for notification

All notification submissions must be made through OCHA’s Humanitarian Notification Team via: OCHA in Syria has a dedicated Humanitarian Notification Team (HNT) located in Amman, tasked with processing all submissions and onward notifications for static facilities and movements. The HNT is supported by a network of Civil‐Military Coordination Advisors in Damascus, Gaziantep and Amman.

With respect to notification, the role of the CMCoords is to (i) provide guidance to humanitarian partners on how engagement with military actors supports access and protection, including the role of the notification mechanism (for static and movement); (ii) provide technical guidance on the relevance and preparation of the notification forms (for static and movement), including assisting in obtaining full and accurate information; (iii) monitor the status of submitted notifications, especially for movements; and (iv) act as focal points for all notified movements, and as necessary act as intermediary between partners and parties before, during and after the movement in order to trouble shoot any issues.

When are submissions for notification processed

The HNT processes submissions from Sunday to Thursday between 8.30 and 16.30 Amman time. In case of emergency the relevant CMCoord or designated OCHA HNTeam duty officers will be available outside of office hours.
Submissions for movements require 72 hours’ notice to parties and therefore normally need to be sent to the HNT at least 76 hours (72h + 4h) ahead of the start of the movement (during operating hours).

Exceptional movements (e.g., emergency medical evacuations) may require regular and close coordination with parties and armed groups, not a notification process. OCHA CMCoords are available to advise humanitarian organizations under such circumstances.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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