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Exhibition Text

Every day, violent conflict forces people to leave their homes.

This exhibition will introduce some of the aid workers helping to support these vulnerable individuals.

What are the practical, emotional and ethical challenges that aid workers face?

What would you do if you were asked to make decisions like these?

Visitors are advised that this exhibition includes descriptions of the impact and consequences of war that some visitors, including children under 12, may find distressing.

‘People just need to have their basic needs met. Then they want a bit of humanity. That’s more complicated.’ Dr Natalie Roberts, MSF

This exhibition explores the experiences of aid workers supporting people forced to leave their homes because of conflict.

All of the aid workers you will meet have worked in at least one of the following six locations.

These are just some of the places around the world where conflict has displaced people within their own country or driven them across international borders as refugees.

Every situation brings its own set of challenges, risks and dilemmas.

Afghanistan

At the end of 2018, there were 2.7 million refugees from Afghanistan. They are the second largest refugee population in the world. Almost 90% of all Afghan refugees are in Pakistan and Iran.

More than 2 million people are displaced within Afghanistan. Violence and instability continues to drive people from their homes.

(Captions)
Children at a camp for displaced people in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2013
© MSF/Ben King

Informal settlement inhabited by displaced people in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2014
© IWM

Iraq

More than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced since the start of 2014 and by 2018, over 300,000 were refugees in other countries.

Many people have begun to return to their homes but at the end of 2018, almost 2 million were still displaced.

(Caption)
People wait at a food distribution point, Bardarash refugee camp, Iraq, 2019
© Vincent Haiges

Libya

In December 2019, Libya was hosting more than 46,000 refugees and asylum-seekers who were registered with UNHCR (The UN’s Refugee Agency).

There are more than 343,000 internally displaced people in the country, driven from their homes by a civil war that began in 2011. Most of the people who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe depart from Libya.

(Captions)
Migrants and refugees in Libya, 2019
© Jérôme Tubiana/MSF

Refugees and asylum-seekers in Tripoli awaiting their evacuation by UNHCR to Rwanda, 2019
© UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

South Sudan

At the end of 2018, there were 2.3 million refugees from South Sudan, making it the third most common country of origin for refugees. The majority of refugees were women and children. Most were hosted by neighbouring countries. A further 1.9 million people were displaced within South Sudan.

(Captions)
An MSF vehicle stuck in mud at Palorinya, Uganda at a settlement for refugees from South Sudan, 2017
© Laura Kant/MSF

Syria

At the end of 2018, Syrians were the world’s largest forcibly displaced population. More than 6.6 million were refugees and 6.1 million displaced inside the country. Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees.

(Captions)
Distribution of non-food items and water in northwest Syria, 2019
© MSF

A Syrian girl in a camp for displaced people in Idlib, Syria, 2018
© Mohammed Homidan/MSF

Yemen

Fighting in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, has had a catastrophic impact. Violence has disrupted millions of lives, resulting in widespread casualties. At the end of 2018, more than 2 million people were displaced inside the country. Yemen also hosts over 240,000 refugees.

(Caption)
Yemeni family at a hosting site for displaced people in Aden, Yemen, 2019
© UNHCR/Mahmoud Al Falastiny

(Plinth caption)
‘B-52’ Toyota Land Cruiser used by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Aid workers around the world often drive distinctive white Toyota Land Cruisers like this one. They are highly adaptable and can be used to move people and supplies or converted into ambulances.

One of the biggest challenges that aid workers face is how to access communities in need. The right vehicle can help with physical or geographical barriers. But in places affected by conflict, there can also be complex political or ethical dilemmas to overcome.

Médecins Sans Frontières

‘I wanted to be an aid worker because I feel it is very important for every human being to help another.’ Anhar Alomary, CARE International

‘I realised that the issues are not very simple … you need to have some specialised skill to understand them and to approach them.’
Ashish Damle, War Child

Anhar Alomary
Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant
CARE International
© Jennifer Bose/CARE

Ashish Damle
Country Director, Afghanistan
War Child

Dr Darryl Stellmach
Medical Anthropologist and former Field Coordinator
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
© Dr Darryl Stellmach

Eujin Brun
Communications Officer
UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency

Gareth Owen
Humanitarian Director
Save the Children UK
© Gareth Owen

George Graham
Director, Children and Armed Conflict
Save the Children UK
© George Graham

Jane Drichta
Director
Global Motherhood Initiative (GMI)
© Jane Drichta

Larissa Thorne
Midwife
Global Motherhood Initiative (GMI)
© Larissa Thorne

Lydiah Mutimbanyoka
Humanitarian Response Team Leader, Asia
Mercy Corps

Markus Geisser
Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Martin Omukuba
Country Director, South Sudan
International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Maya Ameratunga
Ombudsman
UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency

Mohammad Hamza
Food Security Officer, Syria
Islamic Relief

Naik Mohammad Qoraishi
Deputy Director (Operations), Afghanistan
International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Dr Natalie Roberts
Emergency Operations Manager
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
© Natalie Roberts/MSF

Saleem Ghadhban
Field Officer, Waste and Weapon Contamination Department
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
© Ibrahim Sherkhan/ICRC

Sizar Issa Yassen
Community Liaison Supervisor
Mines Advisory Group (MAG)

Sonal Shinde
Humanitarian Response Team Leader, Africa
Mercy Corps

Wendy McCance
Country Cluster Manager for Syria, Lebanon and Iraq
British Red Cross
© Wendy McCance

William Carter
Programme Manager, Afghanistan
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

‘Hard choices have to be made all the time’
Mohammad Hamza, Islamic Relief

Aid workers working with refugees and displaced people have to make difficult decisions every day.

These questions highlight some of the dilemmas they all face.

We would like you to make some choices about what you would do in a challenging situation. Just like in real life, every decision has a consequence.

You will also encounter aid workers sharing some of the hardest decisions they have made.

Is help given for the right reasons?

Sometimes the provision of aid can be misused or manipulated. Aid workers – and the people they are trying to help – need to be wary of those who want to offer or withhold aid for political or monetary gain.

Whose money should you accept?

Aid work costs money. Aid organisations have to make complex choices about how their work is funded and how they spend their money.

Should you speak out?

Aid workers aim to relieve human suffering. But they also have to decide whether they should speak out about events they have seen and experienced.

Do all aid workers face the same risks?

All sorts of people become aid workers, men and women, young and old. Some are international staff of major aid agencies. But the majority are local people working in their own countries.

Is help given where it is most needed?

Sometimes the people who need help are not easy to reach. There can be physical barriers, political restrictions or issues of safety preventing aid workers accessing areas affected by conflict.

Humanitarian Principle 1: Humanity

Human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found. The purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings.

Definition by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Humanitarian Principle 2: Neutrality

Humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Definition by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Humanitarian Principle 3: Impartiality

Humanitarian action must be carried out on the basis of need alone, giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress and making no distinction on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class or political opinions.

Definition by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Humanitarian Principle 4: Independence

Humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented.

Definition by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

‘What we are facing today is the reality of protracted conflict.’
Markus Geisser, ICRC

‘We are impartial, neutral, we are not taking sides.’
George Graham, Save the Children UK

‘We would like to be speaking about a lot more. You know, you get angry.’
Gareth Owen, Save the Children UK

‘The most important thing is to deliver. There can be a lot of talk and not so much follow up.’
William Carter, Norwegian Refugee Council

(Structure)
Is help given where it is most needed?

‘Those in the worst circumstances are often out of reach, and that’s a tremendous source of frustration for any humanitarian.’
Gareth Owen, Save the Children UK

Aid should be provided to the people who need it most, regardless of who they are and where they live. But is this ever achievable?

It is not always easy to reach those who need help. There can be practical and cultural barriers, political restrictions or safety concerns preventing aid workers reaching areas affected by conflict.

Aid workers have to negotiate access to people and places, liaising with government officials, community leaders, armed groups or other local power brokers. All of these interactions bring challenges.

New counter-terrorism laws being introduced around the world, mean that aid workers might even risk prosecution by engaging with certain groups.

(Lightboxes)
View of Khanke Camp, near Dohuk in northern Iraq, 2019
The Global Motherhood Initiative (GMI) worked with displaced Yazidi women in Khanke Camp, providing midwifery with mental health support. It took Jane Drichta, who set up GMI, more than six months to negotiate permission to work in the camp.
© Larissa Thorne

View from an ICRC vehicle travelling through Sirte, Libya, 2011
In 2011, Libya descended into civil war. Thousands of people fled their homes to escape the violence. Aid workers arriving to help often had to negotiate for access with armed men at roadblocks. George Graham was in Libya with Save the Children UK at this time. He recalls that ‘it only takes one person with a gun to say no and we can’t do anything.’
© ICRC/Younes

El Shalwi Children on Nyoat Island, South Sudan, 2017. Conflict has forced thousands to seek safety on ‘islands’ within the swamplands surrounding Nyal.
South Sudan remains one of the most difficult locations for aid work. As well as challenges of geography and climate, there are numerous armed groups across the country, making negotiations for access long and complex. Ethnic divisions within the country also limit where aid organisations can send their national staff.
© Kellie Ryan/IRC

(Showcase)
Karrimor rucksack used by Gareth Owen

Gareth has been an aid worker for almost 30 years, taking this rucksack on many of his most challenging assignments. Places he has worked include Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. In locations they can’t access, Gareth explains how his organisation works through local partners; ‘they’re on the front line day in, day out … our role is really to support them as best we can.’
Gareth Owen

Trainers worn by Larissa Thorne at Khanke camp, northern Iraq, 2019

Larissa worked as a midwife for Global Motherhood Initiative (GMI) providing care to displaced Yazidi women and their babies. GMI’s clinic manager Waheeda had herself been displaced from Sinjar and she helped Larissa communicate with the new mothers. Larissa found that it was ‘wonderful to have a cultural mediator as well as a translator.

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) flag being flown on a vehicle in Afghanistan, 2010

© NRC/Christian Jepsen

Sandals made for MSF researcher Dr Darryl Stellmach in South Sudan, 2014

Darryl bought these sandals in Leer, South Sudan. They were custom made using old rubber tyres and were ideal for the muddy and thorny terrain. He explains how the right footwear was essential because ‘we were walking everywhere, since we had no cars in Leer – all vehicles having been looted.’
Darryl Stellmach

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) vehicle flag used by William Carter in Afghanistan, 2019

William used this vehicle flag when travelling into Zabul Province in the south of Afghanistan. William and his team were negotiating with the Taliban to set up a humanitarian field office to support people recently displaced to the area. He explains that usually ‘we travel low profile but in certain high risk areas where we have had to negotiate access before we would be in full visibility.’

(Structure)
Do all aid workers face the same risks?

‘International staff can … leave the country when they wish. National Staff don’t always have that choice.’
Wendy McCance, British Red Cross

Being an aid worker can be dangerous. Over the last ten years, the numbers of violent attacks against aid workers have been increasing, with more than 200 separate attacks taking place in 2018. But do the risks vary according to who you are and where you work?

All sorts of people become aid workers, men and women, young and old. Some are international staff employed by multinational organisations. But the majority are local people working in their own countries. They are often drawn to humanitarian work by their own experiences of conflict or displacement.

In some high risk environments, national staff are the only aid workers able to gain access. Increasingly it is these local national staff who experience the most attacks.

(Lightboxes)
Funeral of Mohammad al-Khadraa, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent first-aider, April 2012
Syria remains one of the most dangerous countries for aid work. In 2018, 56 aid workers were killed. Most deaths were caused by bombing. Many international organisations rely on national staff or partner organisations to deliver aid in Syria because of the risks of working there.
© CR SYRIE/Ibrahim Malla

The aftermath of an attack on the Save the Children UK office in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, 24 January 2018
Three Save the Children UK employees were killed in this attack involving a suicide car bomb and armed men. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility. Save the Children UK temporarily suspended all operations in Afghanistan, though they are again running programmes across the country.<
© Getty/Noorullah Shirzada

A soldier being sentenced for his part in an attack on the Terrain hotel in Juba, South Sudan in July 2016. A journalist was killed and aid workers raped during the attack.
Risks of aid work can differ for men and women. More men than women experience violent attacks, mainly because there are more male aid workers and they are often employed in high risk roles. But female aid workers report more sexual violence. Many aid workers work in environments where rape is routinely used as a weapon of war.
© Getty/Akuot Chol

(Showcase)
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ‘Explosive Remnants of War’ warning sign from Iraq, 2019

There is an element of risk for anyone working or living in a conflict zone. Even when the fighting has ended, anti-personnel mines and other explosives are left behind. In Iraq, ICRC employs local specialist staff to clear mines, bombs and other devices so that rebuilding work can begin and displaced people can return home.

Saleem Ghadhban, an ICRC field officer in weapon contamination in Iraq

Saleem had been working in mine detection for more than 10 years before joining ICRC’s team in 2016. Warning signs are carried by Saleem and his colleagues when clearing a new area.
© Ibrahim Sherkhan/ICRC

Malaria tablets owned by Lydiah Mutimbanyoka, Mercy Corps

Lydiah has worked in South Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan and always carries malaria tablets when she travels. Aid workers need to maintain their own health to be able to help others. In places with only limited medical facilities, even minor illnesses or infections can quickly escalate.

Bottle of Absolut Citron Vodka bought by Jane Drichta in Iraq, 2019

Aid workers also face emotional and psychological stresses in their work. Jane feels that ‘I don’t think people talk enough about … the dark side of humanitarianism … there is addiction, there is alcoholism, there is a lot of hard partying. I understand why.’

Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF) identity card issued to Dr Natalie Roberts and a head scarf worn in Yemen, 2015

Natalie worked as Emergency Coordinator for MSF’s response in Yemen. Arriving at Haydan hospital, she found a small number of local staff working there despite the regular bombing. By continuing to work in Haydan, Natalie and the local staff all faced the same level of risk but she explains ‘I had options – that they didn’t have – to leave, while they had obligations – that I didn’t – to stay … we all chose to stay, for different reasons.’

MSF armband worn by Dr Natalie Roberts

MSF’s reputation and status as a humanitarian organisation allows its staff to operate in some of the world’s most volatile and contested areas. But in 2012 and 2013 working in East Aleppo in Syria, where there was risk of kidnap, Natalie chose not to wear a logo. She recalls that ‘I was under no illusion that people knew I was a foreigner … it just didn’t seem wise to draw unnecessary attention to it.’

Dr Natalie Roberts in Yemen, 2015
© Natalie Roberts/MSF

(Structure)
Should you speak out?

‘Is it better for me to be there and provide healthcare or is it better to take a stand? Sometimes it is more important to take a stand.’
Jane Drichta, Global Motherhood Initiative

Aid workers can be direct witnesses to the cruelty of war. Their priority is always to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity. But should they also campaign for change by speaking out about what they have seen?

If they do speak out, they have to find a balance. Raising awareness and highlighting suffering, while not appearing to take sides and compromising their neutrality.

Speaking out can bring risks. Publicly criticising a regime or group may result in losing access to the people who need help. It could also provoke reprisals against national staff and their communities.

But by saying nothing, aid workers might be accused of complicity.

(Lightboxes)
Ador, a widow, and her two children, returning by plane to her home in South Sudan, after being displaced for many years, January 2017
The repatriation of Ador and a number of other South Sudanese women and children took several years of complex confidential negotiations by ICRC. Restoring family ties and helping displaced people return to their homes is an important part of the organisation’s work.
© ICRC/Alyona Synenko

MSF International President Dr Joanne Liu addresses a meeting of the UN Security Council on the adoption of the UN Resolution for the Protection of civilians and healthcare in armed conflict, 3 May 2016
In her speech, Dr Liu condemned the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan and subsequent attacks on hospitals during the conflict in Syria, in Yemen and elsewhere. She called upon the members of the Security Council to ‘make this resolution save lives.’ Témoignage –or bearing witness –is a fundamental part of how MSF work.
© Paulo Filgueiras

Gynaecologist Dr. Nagham Nawzat and a patient at a settlement for displaced Yazidi people in northern Iraq, November 2018
At this camp in Dohuk, there are projects offering reproductive healthcare and psychological support to displaced women. Advocating for women’s rights or providing information on contraception and abortion can be discouraged or even banned in many societies. Aid workers need to balance talking about these issues while being sensitive to host communities or funders.
© UNHCR/Claire Thomas

(Showcase)
MSF nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs, photographed in Kabul in 2013

© Andrea Bruce/NOOR for MSF

MSF nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs was wearing this T-shirt when MSF’s hospital was hit by US military airstrikes on 3 October 2015

The attack on MSF’s hospital left 42 people dead and many more wounded. MSF were robust in their condemnation of the attack, which they described as a war crime. They also demanded an independent investigation. In 2016, the US military concluded that the bombing was an accident. MSF continue to speak out about attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities around the world.
Médecins Sans Frontières

An MSF staff member surveys the damage to Kunduz hospital, just hours after the bombing raid on 3 October 2015
© MSF

MSF’s Christopher Stokes talking to local and international media in Kabul, Afghanistan about the attack on the Kunduz hospital, October 2015

In an article written in 2016 to mark the anniversary of the attack, Christopher wrote that, ‘we cannot accept that we might be targeted for treating the wounded enemy. We will take our message to those with the fire-power in all of the places where we work … And we will denounce those who seek to erode the laws of war.’
© Sara Chare/MSF

Passport used by Markus Geisser, Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Markus has worked for the ICRC for more than 20 years. His work has taken him all over the world to places where conflict has driven people from their homes. ICRC’s particular approach focuses on not speaking out publicly about their work in conflicts. Markus explains that to ‘tackle very sensitive issues, confidentiality is just a means to an end. It’s not an end in itself, it allows us to actually have a private space, to openly assess problems.’
Markus Geisser

(Structure)
Is help given for the right reasons?

‘There are restrictions levied on a daily basis and it makes delivery of aid very difficult and challenging.’
Martin Omukuba, International Rescue Committee

Aid has sometimes been given or withheld as a political or military tactic. When working in a contested area, how do aid workers avoid being manipulated?

The decision to work in a particular area has to be carefully considered. Aid workers need to be sure that their presence will help people, not perpetuate or inflame an already volatile situation.

If there are attempts to control their work or to misuse the aid they are providing, then sometimes they have no choice but to withdraw.

Aid workers can find themselves in positions of power in the communities where they work. This is a situation which could be exploited for sexual, political or financial advantage.

(Lightboxes)
Migrants and refugees in a detention centre in Libya, June 2019
More than 5,000 migrants and refugees are held in overcrowded detention centres in Libya. Aid organisations have been working in the camps and supporting detainees. But some people have questioned whether by working in the camps, aid organisations could risk legitimising or propping up the detention system.
© Jérôme Tubiana/MSF

Oawlatabad Police Station under construction, Maimana, Afghanistan, 2005. The project was supported by the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).
Between 2002 and 2014, a network of PRTs operated across Afghanistan. Run by a combination of military, diplomatic and development officials, PRTs were intended to improve local security and services. But their involvement in development projects contributed to a blurring of lines between aid workers and soldiers.
© IWM

Ruined building with ISIS graffiti in Raqqa, Syria, July 2017
During 2013, MSF were able to work in opposition- held areas in the north of Syria by negotiating directly with several armed groups, including ISIS. However, in 2014, MSF decided to withdraw their international teams from areas then under direct ISIS control, fearing staff might be abducted and their work compromised.
© Chris Huby/LE PICTORIUM

(Showcase)
Egg timer owned by Anhar Alomary, a Yemeni woman who works for CARE International

Anhar was given this egg timer by a friend that she has since lost touch with because of the war in Yemen. Since 2015, conflict has forced Anhar and her family to leave their home several times. Both sides in Yemen’s war have both been accused of delaying, diverting or confiscating aid and restricting access for aid workers.

Mercy Corps identity card issued to Sonal Shinde

Sonal is one of Mercy Corps’ Humanitarian Response Team Leaders. One of the most difficult aspects of her role is deciding when to withdraw from an area. She explains that ‘we have to go through a thorough analysis on why we are leaving a particular location. Are there any other ways we could reach these communities or renegotiate access? But if not, we finally have to leave.’

Food parcel for Syria, 2017, funded by the British Red Cross and distributed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent

Syria remains one of the most complex and politicised areas for aid work. Organisations providing aid to people in rebel-held areas of the country have had to negotiate with numerous armed groups and with the Syrian government. In 2014, the UN passed resolution 2165, which allowed UN agencies to bring in aid to areas in the north of Syria through neighbouring countries of Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

Contents of a food parcel for Syria, 2017

(Structure)
Whose money should you accept?

‘We’ve refused money for all sorts of reasons.’
Natalie Roberts, MSF

Aid work costs money. Donations come from governments, foundations, wealthy individuals, companies and members of the public. But how do aid workers decide whose money they take?

All sources of funding have potential issues. Associations with certain industries or companies might bring reputational risks. Donors may want to influence how their money is spent, requesting that their donation supports a specific location, community or cause.

A particular ethical challenge, when working in a country at war, is deciding whether to accept money from any government or group that is one of the active parties in the conflict.

At a practical level, organisations need sources of entirely unrestricted funding so that they can pay their basic administration costs and employ staff.

(Lightboxes)
An MSF ‘mediator’ talking to potential donors, 2018

Almost half of all new regular donors recruited by MSF are signed up by ‘mediators’ in this way. In 2018, around 95% of all the money raised by MSF came from individual donors and private institutions. Internationally, they accept only limited government funding, a policy which they believe ensures operational independence and flexibility.
© Antoine Kremer/MSF

Cash distribution at Nineveh, northern Iraq, 2018, organised by the ICRC

Laws intended to limit funding of terrorism have also made it more difficult for aid organisations to move money to run programmes and pay salaries. There are some exemptions for humanitarian work, but clearing banks do not always recognise these. Carrying cash across borders can be illegal so the usual option is to organise multiple electronic transfers which can be frustratingly time-consuming.
© ICRC/Ibrahim Adnan Sherkhan Mohammed Al Genkw

British Red Cross staff and other Red Cross partners visit a supermarket in Saida, Lebanon to monitor a cash scheme for refugees, 2018

Many aid organisations provide cash aid for refugees who would otherwise struggle to pay for basics such as rent, food and medication. Giving cash rather than goods gives refugees more autonomy and supports local economies in communities hosting refugees. Checking what is being purchased helps ensure the best support is given and provides useful data to suppliers. Detailed monitoring of aid projects is required by most funders.
© Wendy McCance

(Showcase)
Notebook and sunglasses used by Wendy McCance between 2016 and 2019

As Country Cluster Manager for Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq for the British Red Cross (BRC), Wendy’s role was to manage the BRC’s programmes in those countries. This included allocating funding, reviewing projects and monitoring spending for donors.

The notebook and sunglasses were used and worn on site visits to projects.
Wendy McCance

Wendy visiting a distribution point for aid in Tel Rifaat, near the Turkish border, 2018
© Wendy McCance

Lebanese Residency card and earplugs

Wendy was mostly based in Beirut during her time as Country Cluster Manager, supporting refugees who had fled from Syria. The residency card recorded that she had permission to live and work in Lebanon. ‘It would have been needed if I had to show any official my status if stopped for any reason … I carried it all the time in case.’

Wendy used the earplugs at night to block out noise from shelling when she spent time in Damascus and Homs in Syria during 2017.
Wendy McCance

(Plinth caption)
Better Shelter Refugee Housing Unit (RHU)

The Refugee Housing Unit (RHU) has been produced through an innovative partnership between social enterprise group Better Shelter, funding organisation the IKEA Foundation, and UNHCR.

The RHU was originally designed for housing but they have also been used as clinics, classrooms or childfriendly spaces. They are more expensive than tents but are stronger, more secure and should last for three years. When they do wear out, the structures can be repaired using locally-sourced materials.

The RHU has been used in more than 30 countries.

Better Shelter, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the IKEA Foundation

(Wall caption)
Signed Libya flag given to George Graham by local staff working with Save the Children UK, 2011

When George arrived in Libya with Save the Children UK in 2011, the country was experiencing a civil war.

Despite the unrest, George remembers that for young Libyans working with Save the Children UK, this was a time of optimism and they embraced the opportunity to help others and rebuild their country.

He sees this national flag, signed with goodwill messages, as a symbol of their hopes for the country’s future.
George Graham

‘Despair is just not an option.’
Gareth Owen, Save the Children UK

Aid work alone can’t solve the world’s worst crises. Political solutions will be needed.

Aid work should be protected under international law, but recent violations have gone unpunished. The international community have struggled to agree how to safeguard humanitarian laws and values.

Aid workers in places affected by conflict face unprecedented ethical, emotional and practical challenges and increased risks to their safety.

But while there are still people who need help and support, aid workers will continue to navigate and meet these challenges.