Protection activities

The overwhelming agreement that protection of civilians forms a central component of humanitarian response contrasts with the lack of any agreed definition as to what is, and is not, protection. Broadly speaking, protection activities fall into a few main categories. At a basic level, aid should not in itself create risks for the intended beneficiaries, hence the need to safeguard against latrines being located in a dark corner of the camp, or food distributions that lead to recipients being targeted. Presence itself – the humanitarian as a potential witness – may also offer some protection, but should not be overstated, as humanitarians cannot directly safeguard the physical safety of people against an armed threat. Beyond these programmatic activities, protection work includes an array of efforts to promote and ensure the respect of rights and protections, such as training on IHL, engagement with armed groups, or advocacy against violations and abuse. It is also important to recognize the activities taken by people and communities themselves.
Remnant of a mortar projectile on the ground in front of a group of children in an IDP camp
Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNAMID

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