Communicating effectively with IDPs in a camp where the security situation is hazardous

Submitted by Tom Longley on August 29, 2006 - 9:54am.

 Butera, an IDP protection officer,  sent in this this request:


Hi my collegues, Iam a protection officer working with IDPs, I am in a situation which is real difficult where the warring parties have not or not will to give security guarantees to the people not to humanitarian workers, this means in the camps the people are real afraid, I am seeking from u the type of language or communication I could use to create some hope to the people and the waring parties causing the violence.


 What approach would you take?

Submitted by Grace Lamunu (not verified) on August 31, 2006 - 3:04pm.

Dear Butera, The job of a protection officer is a very complicated one. I can see you are in a difficult situation here. What I don't understand is what kind of mandate you have. Majority of protection activies are based on the specific mandate of the organisation doing protection. I have tested and found out that in such a situation, it is important to target the IDPs, the warring Parties and any other armed forces that you may have within your Jurisdiction. Confidence building activities such as joint coordination meetings between civilians and armed forces, foot ball matches are some of the programmes you may consider. You could also consider conducting trainings for the warring parties a nd community leaders on thier respective roles in the protection of civilians. However you must be very cautious of the fact that this can be misunderstood by other actors. It is also important that the needs of the people you are dealing with are adequately met. For the start you can begin with a small group of allies, then you use your allies to assit you deal with the people who are very difficult. Grace

Submitted by Guest User Peter Nyororo Kimani (not verified) on September 28, 2006 - 3:05pm.

Dear Butera,

IDPs camps are characterised by security volatility caused by both external and internal threats.The first step is to identify all the sources and their agents.Once you identify these two factors, endeavor to analyze the motives of the source or agents.

Once the sources,agents and motives are well comprehended, you need to identify authorities and individuals who can have influence on the agents by virtue of their respect,mandate,humanitarian assistance and protection.Organise a security meeting with all this actors and have a participatory analysis of the security/conflict situation and possible solutions to the problems.A shared problem is always half way solved.

Reach out to the warring parties.This can be done by sending emmissaries of the most influential or respected authority or individual or agency working in the camp, to whom the warring parties can listen and talk by virtue of the trust and confidence they have in them for whatever reason.This is a first step of openning up that can culminate in bringing all the warring parties to a round table.

An attempt should be always made to approach the parties in a conflict in order to have a sharing of their issues, concerns, grievancies and most of all their fears of one another.Dialogue whichever way it can be reached,is the way to solving security threats.Building trust,equal distribution of humanitarian assistance and protection, prompt resolution of complaints and greivancies, impartiality,listening to all parties without discrimination are all efforts that create a camp environment that reduces threats to camp security.

I would advise that you read some more tips on camp management toolkit:Chapter 8&16 on camp security, peacebuilding and conflict resolution.Its available on NRC website(htt://

Conflict resolution call for innovation and creativity as well as being politically consciuos of the motives and reasons behind the causes of warring.If it is mere lawlessness, then thats need both a community response and any existing law and order body mandated to deal with such an occasion.Peter.

Submitted by Tom Longley on September 28, 2006 - 3:23pm.

Hi Butera -- Just to expand a little on Peter's excellent comment above.

On the Camp Management Project homepage, NRC's describes the Camp Management toolkit as :

The Toolkit addresses the technical and the administrative as well as the social aspects of camp management. It focuses specifically on camp managers, camp management teams and camp management agencies. The Toolkit does not aim to replace specialised manuals relating to different sectors but to promote a better understanding of the main issues and constraints from a camp management perspective. It should also promote positive cooperation between the camp management, the camp residents and the different agencies designated with sector responsibility in a camp. In the absence of specialised agencies, the Toolkit should allow camp managers to understand each sector and advocate for proper coverage.

The particular sections that Peter has referred to are Chapter 8 on Camp Security (PDF) and Chapter 16 on Peacebuilding and Reconcilliation (PDF). 

Submitted by umakant on June 6, 2011 - 11:27am.

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