Featuring: Giles Clarke, Vincent Tremeau
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Women and children suffer war in ways that men don’t. Often this suffering is quieter, or less obvious, but the effects are profound and can alter whole societies.
When conflicts crash civic systems, women and children are usually the first to suffer. When schools fail to open, children might be pushed into work to never return to education.
The especially unlucky ones might be forced into sex work, or even trafficked to pay a family’s bills. When food supplies become scarce, or disaster-induced inflation makes it unaffordable, it is often mothers and babies that go without so men and older children can eat.
Sexual violence against women and girls is not only widespread in conflict but often used as a weapon of war. Domestic violence, human trafficking, enforced marriage and child marriage, all increase during times of conflict, and effect women and children disproportionately.
These are just some of the ways that people caught in conflicts need to be protected in ways that are not required in functioning societies.
That’s where the humanitarian community steps in: delivering the basic sustenance that helps keep a community in crisis alive – but also serving to protect them so they retain their security, dignity, and ability to rebuild their lives when the crisis has passed.
This exhibit features stories from Yemen, Bangladesh, Libya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor that can contribute to the overall response effort.
OCHA coordinates humanitarian action to ensure crisis-affected people receive the assistance and protection they need. It works to overcome obstacles that impede humanitarian assistance from reaching people affected by crises, and it provides leadership in mobilizing assistance and resources on behalf of the humanitarian system.
OCHA is not an operational agency directly engaged in the delivery of humanitarian programmes, and its added value is as an honest broker, facilitator, thought leader and global advocate, providing support to the humanitarian system.
In fulfilling its coordination mandate, OCHA is guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.