Category Archives: Focus (VEN)

Sexual exploitation and abuse in humanitarian organisations in Cameroon: methods for identification and logics of obstruction

J. É. Mba

Jean Émile Mba Doctoral student in political science at the University of Ngaoundéré (Cameroon)

Staff turnover, breaches of confidentiality within the organisations responsible for gathering complaints and attempts at a cover-up by refugee-camp authorities all reflect the difficulty of implementing measures against sexual abuse in fragile contexts. This is the case in Cameroon where Jean Émile Mba takes us to learn about the valiant efforts but also limitations of the methods put in place to combat abuse by humanitarian workers. Continue reading

Confronting sexual violence in Quebec’s international cooperation organisations

I. Auclair


J. St-Georges


S. Maltais


S. Brière


A. Delorme

Isabelle Auclair, Jade St-Georges, Stéphanie Maltais and Sophie Brière Université Laval (Québec)

Anne Delorme Fund Director for the Act Together for Inclusion Fund at the NGO Equitas (Canada)

How do Quebec’s international cooperation organisations (ICOs) deal with gender-based and sexual violence? Basing their reasoning on a survey carried out in 2018 among forty of these ICOs, the five authors believe that the scope and ultimately the incentive value of the measures put in place are more than variable. Continue reading

Sexual abuse perpetrated by humanitarian workers: from moral relativism to competitive victimhood

F. Duroch


E. Noyer

Françoise Duroch Humanitarian Issues and Practices Research Unit, Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva Operations Centre (Switzerland)

Emmanuel Noyer Abuse and Behavior Unit, Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva Operations Centre (Switzerland)

Drawing on the example of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Françoise Duroch and Emmanuel Noyer review the measures taken by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) to combat sexual violence. The authors show the moral relativism that runs through humanitarian organisations concerned with preserving their public image. Admittedly, the latter are increasingly aware of their obligation to monitor the behaviour of their employees, but the systems need to tackle inequalities, especially gender-based ones. For the authors, NGOs will only achieve this by integrating intersectional approaches. Continue reading

Reflections on patriarchy and the fight against gender-based and sexual violence in the humanitarian sector

S. Guillaumat

Segolen Guillaumat Teacher-researcher at the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership (CHL)/Deakin University (Australia)

If the humanitarian sector is not immune to gender-based and sexual violence, it is because it is subject to patriarchal male-female dynamics, as are so many other sectors of society. Some of its specific characteristics can facilitate violence against vulnerable populations whilst others allow it to “immunise” itself against their complaints. To counter the patriarchy’s grip within the humanitarian sector, the author advocates for it to take a “dominant position” on the subject and urge free speech, taking into account the local context in which this violence is anchored. Continue reading

How to better understand the management of sexist and sexual violence committed by humanitarian aid workers

J. Verlin

Jan Verlin Postdoctoral researcher at the Research Chair in the Geopolitics of Risk at the École normale supérieure

To introduce this Focus, its joint editor Jan Verlin presents a non-exhaustive review of the academic literature devoted to the theme of gender-based and sexual violence in humanitarian work. The first observation is that while the subject has eluded practitioners in the humanitarian sector for too long, it is also almost absent from “humanitarian studies”. The author therefore proposes an analytical framework that makes possible to understand how organisations implement systems to combat this violence. While it offers to take stock of the potential of the reforms proposed by these organisations, it also highlights their limitations.

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Reinventing storytelling with the help of Covid-19?

M. Senaratne

Madhushala Senaratne University of Sussex, United-Kingdom

Storytelling is now well integrated into the communication techniques of humanitarian organisations. So much so that the English term has taken its full place there beyond its Anglo-Saxon area of creation. The author, a doctoral student, postulates here that the current pandemic could – should? – help to reinvent it. In short, it is perhaps now that the future ways of telling the world and its suffering are being invented. Continue reading

Between threats and opportunities: the Canadian response to Covid-19

D. Alalouf-Hall


J.-M. Fontan


D. Grant-Poitas


Y. Conoir


S. Maltais

Diane Alalouf-Hall, Jean Marc Fontan and David Grant-Poitras Université du Québec à Montréal

Yvan Conoir and Stéphanie Maltais Université Laval (Canada)

How did Canada, which has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, organise itself? This collective of authors has undertaken a particularly instructive detailed review. We learn how non-governmental organisations, the Canadian Red Cross, provincial governments and the military came to support the medico-social teams. Continue reading

Data collection: lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic in Rohingya refugee camps, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

C. Holt


X. Hurni-Cranston


L. Mahpara Ahmed


F. Mastroianni

Candice Holt, Xiomara Hurni-Cranston, Lamiya Mahpara Ahmed and Federica Mastroianni ACAPS Cox’s Bazar team

Data collection is now an integral part of humanitarian action. And in this area of their work, as in the aid activities themselves, the emergence of the pandemic has forced organisations to adapt. This feedback from the camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, shows how precious a resource refugees are. Continue reading

Localisation of aid through the lens of Covid-19: a matter of choice, or a last resort?

M.-C. Savard

F. Audet

M.-P. Leroux

Marie-Claude Savard, François Audet and Marie-Pierre Leroux Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Observatoire canadien sur les crises et l’action humanitaires (OCCAH)

Vanuatu is one of the countries most exposed to natural hazards and one of the few in the world that has not recorded any case of Covid-19. Having closed its borders in the early hours of the pandemic, it then only has its own human resources to deal with the damage caused by a cyclone. An example noted by the authors to extol, once again, the virtues of the localisation of aid. Continue reading

The impact of Covid-19 on African civil society organisations

I. Sesmaisons

Irène Sesmaisons Director of the consulting firm Efiscens and associate trainer at the Bioforce Centre in Dakar

Even though Africa has been relatively spared from the pandemic in terms of both infection and mortality rates, it is a different story for the continent’s organisations. The author draws on a recent report to take stock of the situation and explore ways in which civil society can adapt in a beneficial way. Continue reading