On September 18 and 19 in Erbil (Iraq), Geneva Call held a two-day “Expert Workshop on Regional Humanitarian Issues and armed non-State actor (ANSA) Engagement” in the presence of representatives from ten international organizations and both local and international non-governmental organizations. In a region where instances of armed conflict are rife, the aim of the workshop was to generate ideas related to how to engage armed non-State actors (ANSAs) in the Middle East and to identify the most prominent humanitarian issues.
This workshop took place after initial mapping and research of ANSAs was carried out by Geneva Call. Humanitarian experts representing the international community (OCHA, IOM, MSF, STC, ECHO, NRC and ICRC) and local non-governmental organizations (Afaq, Harikar and Jafra Foundation) covering Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, attended the workshop. They shared their perspectives around key humanitarian challenges and the ways to address them through engagement with transnational ANSAs and influential national/regional actors.
One expert stated that “the meeting was a win-win initiative for all actors who participated, especially given each participant had a different background, worked in a different armed conflict and could contribute differently to the discussion.” Also, one participant expressed the importance of holding similar meetings in the future to further develop ideas around potential engagement strategies and to get a more comprehensive view of the conflicts taking place all over the region. The importance of adopting a coordinated and joint approach between all humanitarian actors in terms of engaging with ANSAs was highlighted on many occasions throughout the workshop and was perceived as the main solution to minimise humanitarian challenges.
The outcomes of the workshop will be reflected in relevant material to be produced and shared with humanitarian actors working in the region. Eventually, the objective is to better understand transnational ANSAs and the actors that influence them, in order to support humanitarian engagement actors in adapting their strategies, thus increasing their efficiency and impact. Recommendations on these matters were generated at the end of the meeting and will be further developed and consolidated through continued efforts with relevant actors.