Armed conflict in Ethiopia has led to a large influx of refugees to the neighboring country of Sudan. During the start of the humanitarian crisis in November 2020, the UN refugee agency UNHCR quickly recognized that a large scale-up of humanitarian response in Eastern Sudan would be pertinent.
Through the Standby Partnership Network, UNHCR reached out to the International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP) to seek assistance with the setup of humanitarian hubs for the broader response community. In a few days the IHP, a collaboration of 8 primarily north European civil protection agencies, had put together a service package to set up three humanitarian hubs at a value of approximately 2 million USD.
“We flew in as quickly as visas could be obtained, and really just tried to assist as efficiently as possible without putting additional burden on an already difficult situation. For instance we procured our own transport were needed, and hired local contractors as well as refugees to assist with construction work. As the crisis developed, and the needs changed, we adapted our response from three to four humanitarian hubs, and guided UNHCR in their best utilization and layout.”
– Says Tais Ziethen from Denmark who was the IHP team leader.
IHP is a platform for international cooperation and joining resources, both equipment and staff, thereby strengthening the combined response of the joint IHP members. The goal is to support affected people through helping to enhance humanitarian actors’ (primarily the UN) responses to both natural disasters and complex emergencies.
In relation to the operations in Sudan, Tais Ziethen goes on to say: “With the swiftly erected IHP humanitarian hubs in Eastern Sudan, an additional 100 colleagues from the UN and INGO community can live and work comfortably and close to their sites of operation. With air-conditioned tents, satellite-based broadband internet, safe food and water as well as real showers and built-in COVID-19 mitigations, the humanitarian hubs are sure to be hot-spots for coordination and collaboration.”
Many IHP agencies have direct Standby Partnership Agreements with several UN bodies, and the agencies that do not currently have agreements, are engaged in assisting via the existing agreements in the IHP community.
Tais Ziethen concludes: “The IHP is a pragmatic collaboration where the member agencies know each other well in advance. For instance both Denmark and Sweden has standby partnership agreements with the UNHCR, so it was natural for us to divide the workload – the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) took lead of the field operations, while the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) took care of the overall HQ level management.”
The mission received contributions from Denmark, Estonia, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the EU.