IOM Engages Civil Society to Broaden Humanitarian Access in Middle East and North Africa

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Istanbul – Around the world, major armed conflicts and crises have left millions of civilians in need of critical aid. Furthermore, an alarming trend of attacks on aid workers and other non-lethal obstacles to sustained humanitarian access. One development: fewer opportunities for relief.

The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has become increasingly important in responding to mounting need while delivering effective humanitarian assistance in access-constrained environments.

This week in Istanbul, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) to address these issues convening its first Regional IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultation for the Middle East and North Africa Region.

Consultation participants discussed tactics for mitigating risk, strengthening local capacity and securing access in hard-to-reach locations, such as migrant detention centres. With over 65 representatives, the Consultations presented an opportunity for participants to share best practices with peers in their fields. Those exchanges help inform future IOM policy, with the goal of broadening humanitarian advocacy.

“Gaining and maintaining safe access to populations always involves complex decisions and hard choices in volatile and insecure environments,” said Jeff Labovitz, IOM’s Director of Operations and Emergencies, in his opening remarks. “We need to invest in skills and capacities that enable us to operate in high-risk and access constraint environments.”

It is against this background that IOM’s collaboration with NGOs is key to ensuring adequate humanitarian preparedness and response. IOM’s humanitarian partnerships with NGOs in the Middle East and North Africa have expanded as the Organization’s crisis response in the region grows, both in the scope of services provided and in the breadth of geographical coverage.

Since 2015, IOM and ICVA have organised annual joint consultations that let humanitarians engage in dialogue, explore ways of working together and address current challenges.

Among this week’s foci were accountability, transparency, Duty of Care and issues of conflict sensitive programming and aid diversion.

IOM’s Labovitz further affirmed IOM’s commitment to working closely with NGOs at all levels, international, regional, national and local, and to “undertake dedicated action to strengthen our partnerships.”

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