A lecture delivered on Monday by Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) secretary-general Ali bin Hassan al-Hammadi to Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) masters students highlighted the major challenges facing humanitarian work.
He discussed the ‘Components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’, covering the history and evolution of the Movement, its environment of work, fundamental principles, and funding of humanitarian action.
Al-Hammadi said part of these challenges include the complex nature of humanitarian crises, international politics, the field risks for aid workers, violations of the international humanitarian law (IHL), and shrinking sources of funding amid international economic challenges.
Explaining the concept of post-disaster and postwar reconstruction, he said: “Typically, any relief intervention is divided into three stages: (1) immediate response to the disaster, by deploying relief teams to assess the needs and start on the spot to distribute urgent aid to the most affected people; (2) early recovery, which involves repairing the direct damage caused by the disaster, while continuing to provide aid for more victims; and (3) long-term recovery, where plans are developed to help the local community to restore its normal life and reopening and operation of damaged utilities and infrastructure”.
He underlined the concept of preparedness, saying: “We do not wait for the occurrence of a disaster to take action; rather, we work at ordinary times to rehabilitate and empower society, build the capacity of its organisations, and strengthen its utilities and infrastructure to be resilient in the face of disasters and minimise casualties and damage. There are many universally approved guidelines and references for humanitarian action, such as the Sphere Project, the Guide to Rights of Relief Workers on the Field, and the Geneva Conventions”.
Al-Hammadi cited some suggestions to enhance humanitarian action, including legal and humanitarian compliance, training and proficiency, resource mobilisation, use of modern technology, and governance and transparency.
A large part of the lecture was dedicated to the concept of humanitarian diplomacy, as a complement to traditional diplomacy that enables humanitarian action by removing the hurdles of politics and international government relations, towards the ultimate goal of delivering relief and development aid to those in need.
In relation to QRCS, an overview was given on its establishment, relief and development activities in and out of Qatar, and local and international partnerships.
Over the three years of blockade, the value of humanitarian aid provided under QRCS’s programmes and interventions totalled QR1.3bn, reaching out to over 30mn people around the world.
Al-Hammadi also tackled about the Coronavirus (Covid-19) control efforts as a model of success, through co-operation with the ministries of health, interior, labor, and municipality, under the supervision of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management.
From the response, he said there were many impressive aspects to highlight, such as:
- Higher committees supervising the response greatly facilitated the organisation, planning, and implementation of work.
- All the available human and material resources were employed in the response. Further financial and logistic resources were secured as needed.
- Hiring skilled medical workers and volunteers helped to deliver the necessary effective and professional performance to deal with the crisis.
- QRCS capitalised on previous experience in many foreign relief operations, including but not limited to the operation of health facilities, construction of emergency shelter camps, distribution of food and nonfood aid, etc.
- By active participation on the ground, QRCS leaders gave good example, motivation, and power to all the field workers to work even harder.
- Once announced in the media, the Volunteer for Qatar campaign attracted unprecedented numbers of applicants, both nationals and residents, driven by a sense of responsibility to stand together in the face of calamity.
- All QRCS departments worked together in perfect harmony to attain the planned goals.
- There was good co-ordination among QRCS and government authorities, mainly the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management, MoPH, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Municipality and Environment, Hamad Medical Corporation, and Primary Health Care Corporation.
- Many partners and contributors supported QRCS, realising its important role in combating the virus, including 40 charities, private-sector companies, and sports federations.
- QRCS’s humanitarian interventions to help many countries to control the pandemic represented the organisation’s international humanitarian reputation and emphasised Qatar’s bright humanitarian image globally.
The lecture concluded with a list of reference works and valuable literature as suggested readings. The moderator, Dr Mostafa Othman al-Amin, thanked al-Hammadi for his lecture, which informed the students about the Movement and QRCS, as well as their role in protecting vulnerable communities affected by conflict and disasters.