Humanitarian emergencies, whether in developed or underdeveloped countries and whether caused by conflict or natural disaster, imply a population with tremendous needs and local resources that are overwhelmed. This concept of emergency also means that lives are at risk and that immediate response is required to decrease mortality.
In addition to saving lives a humanitarian crisis also requires rebuilding of infrastructure and social systems and emotional, educational and health support of local populations and communities. This secondary phase is critical to recovery by creating normalcy and promoting the re-establishment of the local culture with its own capacity and strengths. Implementation of humanitarian aid must respect the local culture, history, and especially the issues that interfere with the access to human rights and opportunities for all persons. Those persons and communities who have been systematically oppressed by racism, economic unfairness and religious intolerance are our primary focus.
This is where the experiences of the Directors of the Rights and Opportunities Foundation provide their ability to respond. We don’t develop programs as a means to raise funds and gain power. We don’t have big programs with big overhead. We work at the community level to help heal, promote leadership and build capacity.
Internationally recognized priorities in humanitarian assistance are:
1) Need to protect civilian victims and recognize the rights of all persons
2) Minimizing population displacement
3) Urgency to begin operations; success, as measured by crude mortality rate, is extremely dependent on prompt provision of water, then food, shelter, sanitation, control of communicable disease via public health measures and immunizations and other health measures
4) SPHERE guidelines, which emerged from the chaotic response to the Rwanda genocide, have had a marked impact on setting standards for humanitarian response and the physical needs of the people. See www.sphereproject.org
5) Distribution of supplies and aid according to need with the prevention of profiteering or the use of aid for political/military use by political or armed protagonists
6) Humanitarian intervention to address the emotional and social needs of individuals and communities at an early stage and to consider the re-establishment of community structures, education, and mental health programs
7) Handover of responsibilities by agencies involved to the host country, and a focus on building capacity in the host nation and restoring normalcy through sustainable development
8) Cultural sensitivity and re-establishment of indigenous leadership, infrastructure, social structure and community strengths
9) Coordination of disparate agencies: national, foreign and international
The Rights and Opportunities Foundation has the capacity and resources to assist partner organizations in the response to complex humanitarian emergencies. And we have the experience to know how to empower local systems and local leadership. We help disadvantaged and oppressed people and communities heal and build strength.
Read about humanitarian programs we support here.