IASC News - March 2017
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News and Highlights from the IASC Community

March 2017 sadly marked two years since the terrible escalation of the conflict in Yemen. Credit: OCHA

ERC’s Statements on Yemen, 2 and 26 March

During his third visit to Yemen, ERC O’Brien “saw terrible and terrifying evidence of looming famine”. In his subsequent statement on 26 March, he recalled “the hospital ward, the complete stillness of the tiny malnourished child whose eyes focus on nothing. The grim realization that these patients were the fortunate ones who could access a hospital and might survive. What about all the others – out of sight? Out of mind?” He stressed this to be “precisely what we cannot allow to happen” and there to be still time to avert catastrophe in Yemen.
In his remarks to the media on 2 March, the ERC stated that “We are ready to scale up the response, but need US$1.2 billion of funding… But getting the funds is not enough in itself. We also need all the parties to the conflict to immediately facilitate timely, full and unimpeded humanitarian access, at all times. More suffering and the spectre of famine is encroaching on the very people the parties claim to be fighting for; the time is now to prove their seriousness by helping us to try to ensure there is never famine in Yemen.” The ERC said that “With the access and funding, we can help. We have a plan and we can help avert a famine. One thing is clear, though: there are no military solutions to this terrible conflict. Only sustainable peace can bring about the solutions, hope and future of Yemenis. I call on all parties to the conflict to come together and make peace. That is the best humanitarian assistance.”
The United Nations will hold a High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen. Co-hosted by the governments of Switzerland and Sweden, the conference will take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 25 April 2017. More information is available here.

IASC Principals Statement 

In March 2017, the IASC Principals endorsed a Statement declaring a zero tolerance approach on sexual harassment and abuse within the humanitarian sector. They raised deep concern at the results of a survey by the Humanitarian Women’s Network (HWN), which revealed incidents of discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse against female aid workers by their colleagues in the workplace, informed by Report the Abuse’s on-going study on the issue.

The IASC Principals reiterated their commitment to a zero tolerance approach to all forms of sexual harassment within the humanitarian sector and the humanitarian working environment. They were concerned by the climate of impunity in which sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual abuse takes place. They promised to strengthen prevention, accountability and protection policies and structures, and to increase their efforts to ensure that all members of staff are aware of, and comply with, their rights and responsibilities to maintain a workplace which is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment and abuse.

The Principals reiterated that perpetrators within their organizations will be held to account. The IASC Principals promised to protect those who report discrimination, exploitation and abuse.  Through concrete action, the IASC Principals would reinforce their respective organizations’ duty of care to all staff member, and ensure all personnel can work in safe environments, in dignity and with respect.  The IASC Co-Champions on the issue will be convening an IASC Senior Focal Points meeting to develop a ‘road-map’ of action and future action. The full statement is available on the IASC website.
Report the Abuse, the first and still only global NGO to address the issue of sexual violence against humanitarian aid workers, has been collecting data on the problem since 19 August 2015. Its open data collection is on-going and highlights the scale and scope of sexual violence against humanitarians. Report the Abuse is also establishing the good practices standards to address the issue, being released in four phases over the next year.

IASC Ad Hoc Principals Meeting on Level 3 (L3) Emergency Responses

On 7 March 2017, the IASC Principals unanimously extended the system-wide Level 3 (L3) surge activations for Iraq, Yemen and Syria for a period of six months (until end August 2017).
The field leadership briefed the meeting on the current developments in their respective operations.  The Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria stressed the protracted nature of the multiple crises within Syria and drew attention to the complexity of the conflict and the danger to aid staff. The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis emphasized the continued internal displacement.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen highlighted that 18 million people are in need of assistance and 17 million people are at risk of food insecurity. Key areas of concern include access issues and reduced social services country-wide.  The Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq highlighted the situation of people in Mosul due to ongoing military operation.  
The IASC Principals also highlighted the considerable efforts to scale up humanitarian response in the four contexts - North-Eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen – at high risk of famine to alleviate immediate needs. The importance of a focus on preventive measures now, particularly where contexts are still ‘pre-famine’, was underscored, noting the inter-relationship between malnutrition and disease incidence (such as cholera) and the importance of immediate response, such as food deliveries, in averting public health crises.
A list of “L3 IASC System-wide response activations and deactivations” is available on the IASC website.

IASC Emergency Team Leadership Programme (ETLP) workshop

The 19th IASC Emergency Team Leadership Programme (ETLP) workshop was held from 26-30 March in Montreux, Switzerland. This ETLP was co-facilitated by the UNHCR Global Learning Center and InterWorks LLC. The course has been conducted for IASC member institution participants since March 2006. The IASC ETLP is designed and developed from the results of an IASC training needs assessment which identified the need for enhanced emergency team leadership based on a number of competencies which contribute to optimal performance as an emergency team leader. The purpose of the ETLP is to foster effective, efficient and professional team leadership in humanitarian emergency settings by improving the team leadership competencies of participants in their roles as emergency team leaders. 20 participants attended this workshop, including participants from the American Red Cross, Caritas, IOM, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian Refugee Committee, Save the Children International, UNDP, FAO, UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA, OHCHR and World Vision International. More information can be found on the IASC website.

STAIT Webinar on Collective Accountability to Affected People

The Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT) held a webinar on 8 March titled, "A collective approach to accountability to affected people? Moving beyond listening, together." In this webinar, the speakers outlined the practical steps HCs and HCT members can take to put in place a system-wide AAP approach, as well as provided practical examples of what is required to establish and run a successful collective call centre. The panelists for the webinar were: Mamadou Diallo, DSRSG, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Democratic Republic of Congo and Charlotte Lancaster, Project Manager at the Iraq IDP Information Centre. The webinar is accessible on the STAIT website.

ICVA’s Annual Conference: Stressing the importance of NGO engagement with host governments


On 28 March 2017, over 160 participants attended ICVA’s 2017 Annual Conference, How Can Humanitarian Civil Society better Navigate a Complex World? The importance of NGO engagement with host governments.  Over the course of the day, panellists and participants unpacked the definition of “humanitarian civil society”; and discussed whether the space to operate is shrinking or evolving, and how more effective engagement between NGOs and host governments can help NGOs’ ability to operate. Several NGOs showcased their work in engagement with host governments at national levels, providing an opportunity to share lessons and experiences from across the globe.

The Annual Conference was followed by an NGO-only symposium, where participants delved further into the issue sharing experiences, ideas and lessons of NGOs engaging with host governments.  Both the Conference and NGO symposium provided a rich foundation for ICVA’s two-year project on strengthening NGO engagement with host governments. More information is available on the ICVA website.


IASC Humanitarian Financing Task Team

The IASC Humanitarian Financing Task Team met on 15 March. During the meeting, OECD briefed on the role of financing fragile contexts, suggesting questions to act as a catalyst for critical thinking on several key issues associated with such financing, including: Are there ways to finance fragile contexts better? How do we combine domestic resources more efficiently? How do we make funding more appropriate to issues associated with slow-onset crises? A discussion of solutions suggested a need to address root causes to the fragility; create a coherent narrative as to why ODA is important; and channelling financing for critical ‘soft’ projects such as those which focus on social cohesion.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) shared their findings from a recent study on pooled funding. This study provided a snapshot of the various pooled funds that exist, drew lessons learnt and recommendations on how to manage new and existing pooled funds. The main recommendations included: encouraging greater learning across pooled funds; avoiding reinventing the wheel each time a pool fund is established; advocating for embedding Grand Bargain commitments in pooled funds; ensuring information is accessible; sending similar messages on rules and procedures governing pooled funds; and ensuring a principled approach.

IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA)

The IASC AAP PSEA Task Team participated at the March 2017 Senior Focal Points meeting on PSEA and highlighted the importance to support country operations in setting up PSEA networks. The task team circulated the mapping of PSEA networks at the global and country levels as a working document. The Task Team with support of the Senior Focal Points will continue advocating to new PSEA networks to use the Best Practice Guide on CBCM and the globally agreed SOPs after adapting them to the context. It is essential to ensure that PSEA networks at the country level are not operating in isolation from AAP networks to facilitate referral of SEA cases that might arise through AAP mechanisms when those are distinct, and vice versa. While some countries have set up two distinct groups, it is important to raise awareness and build capacity of staff of both AAP and PSEA groups to ensure they work together in synergy.

IASC Reference Group on Protracted Displacement

The IASC Reference Group on Protracted Displacement met on 28 March. Professor Walter Kaelin briefed on a recent study concerning protracted displacement, Breaking the Impasse: Reducing Protracted Internal Displacement as a Collective Outcome. The study proposes a move from programme outputs to collective outcomes that prevent and address displacement. He noted the focus on working with both humanitarian and development actors, reinforcing the relevance of early action to strengthen coping mechanisms, even when durable solutions are not yet possible. He highlighted seven elements contributing to collective outcomes: joined-up analysis and a clear evidence base; definition of outcomes; a strategic outlook; inclusive planning processes; adequate norms and institutions; outcome-orientated programmes; and transversal financing. There was also discussion on complementary research by the Geneva Graduate Institute.

IASC Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings held two webinars, one in collaboration with the GBV AoR on the links between the new IASC Guidelines on GBV and MHPSS, and a second webinar was held later on in the month on MHPSS for GBV survivors, with case studies from refugee camps in Uganda and with urban refugees and Lebanese in Lebanon. Recordings of the webinars can be accessed here:

The IASC RG Coordinator will undertake a support mission to Iraq from 22 April - 4 May 2017, to work with the 4 MHPSS Coordination groups in the country, update the situation analysis document in light of the Mosul offensive and conduct two trainings on M&E and the IASC Guidelines.

IASC Reference Group on Risk, Early Warning and Preparedness

The 4th meeting for the Reference Group took place on 22 March. A briefing was given on the report of the INFORM Global Risk Index for 2017. The report reflects some changes to the INFORM methodology, including a new category to describe severity. The implementation of the INFORM Subnational Roll-out project in selected at-risk countries in ongoing. The Report is accessible on the INFORM website.

The IASC Early Warning and Early Action Report for the period June to November 2017 should be ready by 22 May 2017, and will help the IASC partners to prioritise preparedness, inform CERF Funding, and help understand what action has been taken since last year. The Report is biannual, produced by the EW analysts’ group.

In their December 2016 meeting, the IASC Principals reconfirmed endorsement of the L3 protocol on “Activation Procedures for Infectious Disease Events” and agreed to engage in a simulation exercise. WHO has agreed to take the lead in forming and chairing an inter-agency exercise team, which will be responsible for the design and facilitation of the proposed L3 health emergency exercise (H2E). The first meeting of the H2E team is planned for the first week of April.

A reference was also made to upcoming Multi-Hazard Conference to be held on 22-23 May in Cancun, Mexico. The Conference aims at demonstrating to countries how they can build, improve the availability of, and their communities’ access to, multi-hazard early warning, risk information and assessment. The Conference provides detailed background to the Global Platform Early warning Session to be held on 24 May.



IASC Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for MHPSS Programmes in Emergency Settings

The IASC Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings has finalized “A Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings”. The framework provides guidance in the assessment, research, design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programmes in emergency settings. The framework is available here.



IASC Meetings & Events

5 - 6 April 2017: IASC 92nd Working Group in Rome, Italy

5 April: IASC Task Team on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

20 April: IASC Event on ECOSOC HAS 2017, ECOSOC annual resolution, Secretary-General’s report on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations

28 April 2017: IASC Principals Meeting, Geneva

4 May 2017: IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA)

7 June 2017: IASC Event on the Environment and Humanitarian Action

15 June 2017:  IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA)

Other Events

4-6 April 2017: A global IASC MHPSS Guidelines training in Copenhagen for 18 Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies.

7 April 2017: World Health Day - Thematic focus on depression -

9-13 April 2017: CDAC Foundation Training Course on Communications and Community Engagement. Apply through -
18-19 April 2017: IOM International Dialogue on Migration 2017 – Inter-sessional Workshop (IOM Office, New York)
25 April 2017: High Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen (Geneva) -
Multiple dates from May to November 2017: PHAP Advanced Courses on Humanitarian Law and Policy - 
14-16 June 2017: UNHCR NGO Annual Consultations 2017 (CICG, Geneva)
28-30 June 2017: UNHCR Standing Committee 69th Meeting
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The IASC was established under General Assembly Resolution 46/182 (1991) as the primary inter-agency coordination mechanism for humanitarian action in complex and major emergencies. It is a unique forum which brings together UN operational agencies and other humanitarian organizations and is supported by the IASC secretariat. Email:
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