Olinca Model United Nations UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Topic B

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1 Olinca Model United Nations 2015 UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Topic B The role of volunteers in refugee camps

2 Dear delegates of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, During the Olinca Model United Nations, at the UNHCR committee, you will discuss two topics of major importance: Repatriation and resettlement policies for refugees in the Middle East The role of volunteers in refugee camps During the debate you will have to show your diplomatic and analytic skills as well as your values by respecting other points of view and positions towards the topics. You must consider proposals, present valid arguments and be willing to reach peaceful and coherent solutions. We encourage you to prepare yourselves the most in order to represent your nation with the best interests in mind and defend your position. Learn the topic, look for information and be part of this Model United Nations. Welcome to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of the XII Olinca Model United Nations! Yours Sincerely, Víctor H. Flores Head of Committee Fernando Trejo Chair Karla D. Villagómez Moderator Elia A. Martínez Deputy Chair Jimena Rodríguez Undersecretary

3 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Background While UNHCR's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees, their ultimate goal is to find long-lasting solutions that will allow them to rebuild their lives with dignity and peace. There are three solutions open to refugees where UNHCR can help: 1) voluntary repatriation, 2) local integration or resettlement to a third country in situations where it is impossible for a person to go back home or 3) remain in the host country. UNHCR helps to achieve these long term solutions for refugees around the world every year. But for several million refugees and a greater number of internally displaced people, these solutions are nowhere in sight. UNHCR has been highlighting these delayed situations in order to get solutions. In many cases, the absence of these worsens protection problems. Historical Background Humanitarian aid workers that belong to the United Nations or to the Red Cross have always enjoyed from international immunity and legal protection against the attack of belligerent parties. Despite this, attacks to volunteers have regularly occurred and increased since the 1990s and had its highest point in 2012, with a total of 167 incidents where volunteers have either been harmed or killed. The legal bases that defend the volunteers were first stablished in the Geneva conventions in 1949 and the related Protocols I and II in These treaties describe the rights and obligations of civilians, as the humanitarian aid workers are categorized. They recognize the right to be treated humanely by satisfying basic needs such as water, food, shelter, medical treatment and communication. It also prevents violence against the volunteers and highly prosecutes kidnaping as well as degrading or humiliating treatment. Despite the aforementioned, these treaties still have some disadvantages. Even though they prevent attacks against the volunteers, they do not force any of the parties to ensure their security by providing protection to guard them. Leaving the safety of the humanitarian aid workers to themselves, consequently leads to the several number of volunteers affected by major violence attacks.

4 The first attacks occurred in 1993 in both Somalia and Bosnia with a total of 4 casualties. Since then, the attacks have expanded to various countries and augmented in number, affecting not only UNCHR but other organizations which help people in conflict areas. Nevertheless the issue was not considered a top priority but now it was recently addressed by the High Commissionaire. Some of the most relevant events took place in September 2000 in Indonesia, when five staff members of UNCHR were killed as they were attacked by the militia. That same year one volunteer in Guinea was killed while a second one was abducted. The list goes on and on, including bombings, shootings and even torturing. Present situation Nowadays the situation has become critical due to the increasing number of violent events against the humanitarian aid workers. This is especially disturbing because most of these violent acts are deliberately performed and operations like kidnaping have increased in as much as 350% in recent years. One of the mayor problems the agency has encountered with is that in most cases it is hard to identify a motive for the attack. So much that in 58% of the cases the motives are described as undetermined, making it very difficult to ensure safety to the volunteers when the offenders are not clearly identified. Aid workers can be targeted for political reasons both directly and by association. Sometimes the humanitarian organization may be targeted for something that it has done or a statement it has made. Sometimes it may be simply for delivering aid to a population to whom others do not wish aid to be reached. It can also be targeted for being associated as an organization collaborating with the 'enemy'. The dangers of being associated with specific governments or armed forces has further increased the determination of aid workers to be seen as separate, independent and neutral political agents.

5 However these measurements have not had the expected impact and the volunteers are not seen as part of a western aid organization but as associates of the population being aided. As a consequence, there is no differentiation and they are targeted indiscriminately, resulting in the violent acts performed against the humanitarian aid workers for political reasons they are not involved in. Most of the incidents in recent years have occurred in a limited number of countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Chad, Iraq and Pakistan. Even when the number of confrontations drastically diminished after the Cold War, the appearance of internal armed problems in these countries has created new danger zones where most of the issues rely on. Countries background SOMALIA Under the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS) project, UN Volunteers manage all activities related to air traffic control, airport maintenance, rescue and firefighting and all relevant training, in particular for air traffic controllers and fire fighters. Based in various duty stations in northwestern and northeastern Somalia, these people have for the past several years filled core staff positions, ensuring safe and professional control of Somalia's air space. They often work under difficult circumstances, especially in the field where they carry out lengthy missions. SUDAN UNAMID s objective (African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur) is to protect civilians among other activities. The Mission was committed to ensure not only the safety of the people of Darfur, but also the living conditions of all its personnel. To meet this responsibility, UNAMID built its entire medical services from the ground up. Today, 26 UN Volunteers are serving among the medical specialists and health care professionals in UNAMID s Medical Section.

6 AFGHANISTAN Since the UN started operations in Afghanistan in 1989, approximately 1200 UN volunteers have worked in the country. The initial agreement was to field 44 UN volunteers for electoral activities at the field level in Afghanistan. IRAQ Some 44,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in Iraq's Kurdistan Region. Duhok governorate hosts the largest number with more than 27,000 people, followed by Erbil (5,852) and Suleimaniya (1,683). These conditions are harsh both for refugees and volunteers. Sources of information [on line] [accessed on January 2015] Available in World Wide Web [on line] [accessed on January 2015] Available in World Wide Web [on line] [accessed on January 2015] Available in World Wide Web Further research is required.

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