IRC Belgium leads on the IRC's engagement with the EU institutions. Our priority is to ensure that EU policy and legislation meets the needs of those affected by conflict and disaster. We use IRC’s learning and experience to shape EU humanitarian and development policies in ways that improve the lives of more people worldwide. We seek to drive policy change on the refugee crisis in Europe and globally, and to ensure that EU funding for the global refugee crisis is targeted effectively.
IRC Belgium is part of a strong and flourishing European network, working closely with our offices in Germany, UK, Greece, Switzerland, and Serbia, as well as our sister organisation Stichting Vluchteling (SV) in the Netherlands.
The IRC & the EU
• The European Union and its member states are collectively the world’s largest aid donor. Our engagement with the European institutions enables us to help shape effective, evidence- based policies that bring maximum benefit for beneficiaries.
• IRC advocates for a sustainable, sensible and above all humanitarian response to the refugee crisis, including the provision of safe and legal routes to protection in the EU.
• We draw on our knowledge of the situation on the ground in Greece and the Balkans to advocate for solutions to address the humanitarian crisis within Europe’s borders.
Supporting Iraqis to Recover and Rebuild their lives
Investing in a people-centered approach to ‘reconstruction’ At the Iraq Reconstruction Conference hosted by Kuwait in 2018, participants should pledge to build back more than just buildings and roads— supporting the Iraqi people and ensuring that national institutions are effective and accountable will be critical for promoting a peaceful and resilient Iraq. • While 3.2 million people have returned to their areas of origin and many more may desire to do, returns must be voluntary and informed. Donors should prioritize funding for clearance of explosive remnants of war, discourage Iraqi authorities against forced, premature, or blocked returns, and promote alternative solutions to displacement for those who are unwilling or unable to return. • For those displaced by the conflict in Iraq, the ability to work and generate income is consistently reported as one of the highest needs. Donors should invest in longer-term market-based livelihoods interventions across Iraq, particularly for young male and female entrepreneurs who can harness this potential to support their families and revitalize communities. In February 2017, nearly 50% of IDP families were estimated to be missing some form of civil documentation, which are needed to register for humanitarian and governmental assistance, and access education and employment opportunities. Donors should encourage the Iraqi government to expedite judicial processes to issue or replace civil documentation and ensure that national social protection systems are accessible. • Throughout the conflict, many people have been injured or had their property destroyed, and have been unable to attain compensation from Iraqi or Coalition authorities. The Iraqi government should strengthen judicial mechanisms on accountability for conflict-related crimes and allocate adequate resources for formal compensation mechanisms. Members of the Coalition should provide compensation to Iraqi civilians for injuries, loss of life or property resulting from Coalition actions during the conflict. • 50% of public schools in Iraq require rehabilitation. By June 2017, more than 3 million children did not attend school regularly and more than 1.2 million children (including 90% of children in conflict-affected areas) were out of school. Donors should invest in school reconstruction and rehabilitation, as well as clearance of explosive remnants of war from schools. To improve the accessibility and quality of education, the Government of Iraq should ease barriers that inhibit children from re-integrating into formal education and donors should support the Iraqi Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education to ensure teachers are paid their salaries. • After years of exposure to war, insecurity, and risk, millions of Iraqis need to heal from the individual and collective trauma they endured. Donors should invest in family and community-based psychosocial support approaches, encourage the Iraqi government to reduce barriers that inhibit GBV case referrals and sexual assault care in Department of Health facilities, and invest in expanding the mental health and psychosocial support practitioner workforce. • To ensure that collective efforts are sustainable, the donor community must invest in the structures and people who are best placed to champion a peaceful and inclusive Iraq: communities, local civil society, and government institutions. Donors should support INGOs to continue and scale ongoing capacity strengthening efforts with communities and government institutions, and complement our investments by channelling at least 25% of funding for Iraq to local CSOs and by removing barriers that prevent INGOs from partnering with local organizations, in line with commitments made in the Grand Bargain. • Ensure the Iraqi people are kept at the heart of policies and resources. As undertaken by DFID and the EU, all donor governments should clearly define a comprehensive strategy for their activities in Iraq moving forward, underpinned by a people-centered approach which is developed in close consultation with civil society. The expertise and role of civil society and the Iraqi people should be integrated into the conference through comprehensive pre-consultations, representative participation at the event, and speaking roles for international and local civil society actors and affected communities. Finally, any funding mechanisms developed for the conference should be directly accessible by civil society and in order to meet the ongoing humanitarian and protection needs, the 2018 HRP should be fully resourced alongside any additional funds pledged at the conference.
From Response to Resilience: Working with Cities and City Plans to Address Urban Displacement
This paper argues for an improved humanitarian response to urban displacement crises by working directly with municipal authorities and through a resilience lens. It draws on the International Rescue Committee (IRC)’s collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) and engagement with two municipal authorities, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) and the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The IRC first worked with Amman, a member of the 100RC network, to support their city resilience planning. While Kampala is not in the 100RC network, the IRC replicated its approach in Amman with KCCA to support their own plans and strategies and bring an urban resilience lens to displacement within Kampala. By discussing these relationships and the process behind them, this paper highlights how humanitarian-municipal partnerships can achieve the following benefits: 1. Strengthening coordination, sustainability, and impact of multi-stakeholder responses to urban displacement; 2. Linking humanitarian programming to long-term development goals of the city; 3. Improve the understanding of municipal authorities in relation to the needs and preferences of urban displaced; and 4. Ensure the inclusion of displaced and marginalized residents in municipally-provided public services. Urban displacement cuts across city and humanitarian sectors. It is the collective responsibility of the international community and the localities we serve to strengthen city resilience in the face of urban displacement, and we cannot do so without relying on both humanitarian and municipal actors. Whereas humanitarians have the expertise to respond to crises, municipal actors have the mandate to build from them. Urban resilience asks for both; that we learn to not only respond to displacement crises and aid the communities they affect in equal measure, but, in doing so, to improve those communities to be better prepared for future crises and have a higher overall quality of life; especially for displaced and marginalised city residents.
Dangerous ground: Syria's refugees face an uncertain future
As the military situation changed in Syria, and against a backdrop of increased anti-refugee rhetoric and policies across the world, governments began in 2017 to openly contemplate the return of refugees to the country. In this report, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, Action Against Hunger, CARE International, the International Rescue Committee and the Danish Refugee Council warn that the situation in Syria is far from safe, however, and that the prevailing interest in securing the return of refugees is undermining their safety and dignity in neighbouring countries, creating push factors and increasing the likelihood of forced returns in 2018. It also threatens to limit the options for making a life beyond the region through resettlement or other safe and legal routes.
Public service delivery in contexts of urban displacement
This paper discusses how humanitarian actors may help strengthen existing service delivery infrastructures and assist local service providers to meet increasing demand from displaced populations.
Transitioning to a government-run refugee and migrant response in Greece: A joint NGO roadmap for more fair and humane policies
More than 2,000 unaccompanied children are on the waiting list for safe shelters in Greece, according to a new report by 12 organizations, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The chronic shortage of accommodation for children is just one of the gaps in services that is worsening as the Greek Government prepares to take full control of the refugee response.
Protecting and empowering adolescent girls from gender-based violence in emergencies
Violence is a daily reality for many adolescent girls around the world, largely due to deeply entrenched social norms and practises that perpetuate gender inequality.
No Safe Place: A lifetime of violence for conflict-affected women and girls in South Sudan
More than half the girls in South Sudan reported domestic violence, which is exacerbated by the ongoing conflict
A safe place to shine
To respond to the specific needs of adolescent girls in humanitarian settings and to address the gap in evidence of what works to promote the health, safety and empowerment of adolescent girls, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has invested in a robust adolescent girl programming and research agenda. As part of this effort, the IRC partnered with Columbia University over a three year period (2014–2017) to develop, implement and evaluate the Creating Opportunities through Mentoring, Parental Involvement and Safe Spaces (COMPASS) program, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). COMPASS was implemented with refugees living in camps on the Sudan/Ethiopia border, conflict-affected communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and displaced populations in north-west Pakistan.
Lake Chad's unseen crisis: voices of refugees and internally displaced people from Niger and Nigeria
The violent seven-year conflict originating in Nigeria has intensified in the last three years and spread across borders into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, causing a growing humanitarian crisis in a region known as the Lake Chad Basin.
Parenting in displacement adapting Vroom for displaced Syrian families
Over 3.7 million Syrian children have been born into violence, poverty and displacement since the brutal war in Syria began over six years ago. Conflict and displacement dismantle social services, economic systems and family units with profound effects on the wellbeing of caregivers. Under these conditions, too many children lack stable, nurturing and enriching environments – including frequent interactions with caregivers that promote learning, and development. This case study provides a look at the process of adapting and piloting Vroom for Syrian refugee parents and families. Vroom empowers parents and caregivers of young children to turn everyday moments into brain-building moments. While group-based parenting programs have been shown to be effective in a range of low-resource settings, such interventions are costly and logistically challenging in large-scale humanitarian crises where populations are dispersed across a range of contexts.