The Pacific Humanitarian Team - from commitment to action

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 04 Oct 2017

What is the Pacific Humanitarian Team?

The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) is a network of humanitarian organizations that work together to assist the Pacific Island countries in preparing for and responding to disasters.

During disasters, the PHT provides support to the Pacific governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities in delivering a fast, effective and appropriate disaster response. Outside of disasters, the PHT works with the Pacific governments and partners to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to enable effective international support to a national disaster response. The PHT recognizes and respects national government leadership in disaster preparedness and response.

The PHT is guided by and committed to humanitarian principles and gender equality. The PHT promotes the participation of, and accountability towards, the affected communities to ensure the needs and rights of all disaster-affected people are met, including the most marginalized and the most vulnerable.

Who makes up the PHT? The PHT consists of humanitarian organizations working in the Pacific with the expertise and resources to support disaster preparedness and response in the region. The PHT members include the UN agencies, NGOs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other humanitarian agencies with the necessary capacity to respond in disasters and commitment to the PHT Code of Conduct. These organizations form the core of the PHT.

The wider PHT network includes national governments, donor agencies, regional, faith-based, civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector and academia. These organizations play a critical role in the disaster preparedness and response in the Pacific and are regularly involved in the PHT activities. Although it has a humanitarian focus, the PHT works closely with development actors to ensure strong links with the existing networks and broader development goals and strategies.

The PHT plans and coordinates its work through three main structures:

Heads of Organizations Group (also known as the PHT Principals) – This group is made up of the Heads of Organizations from the key PHT members, such as the UN agencies, IFRC and NGO representatives. The PHT Principals is co-chaired by the UN Resident Coordinators (RCs) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Representatives from the organizations in the wider PHT network may also be invited to participate in the PHT Principals meetings. The Heads of Organizations Group focuses on the discussion of strategic issues and high-level engagement with the governments and other key stakeholders.

Regional Inter-Cluster Group – This group, chaired by UNOCHA, consists of the regional coordinators from each of the nine Cluster Support Teams and NGO representatives. The Regional Inter-Cluster Group focuses on operational issues and providing support to the national disaster preparedness and response systems.

Cluster Support Teams – The PHT has nine Cluster Support Teams working in different sectors, each with a designated lead agency (see Figure 1) and a number of members or supporting agencies.

Several Pacific countries have now established their own national clusters or working groups that are responsible for coordinating disaster preparedness and response in their sector. The PHT fully recognizes and supports these national structures.

The primary function of the regional Cluster Support Teams is to support the national clusters or sectoral working groups where they exist. Where they do not, the Cluster Support Teams are still able to provide coordination and technical support related to their sector, as needed and under national leadership.

In addition, the PHT communicates and collaborates with its wider network through its email groups, online information systems and the annual Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (PHP) meeting. UNOCHA serves as the Secretariat for the PHT and the primary focal point for communication with the PHT, as well as for all general coordination and information management matters.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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