4. Case study: Humanitarian space restrictions

Humanitarian space restrictions

In a complex emergency where CARE is working, the government places significant restrictions on humanitarian access to populations in need of assistance. Staff is faced with many challenges, including ‘administrative harassment’ such as flight bans, delays and denials in processing travel permits, and limitations on staff numbers. Humanitarian workers in this country have been subjected to threats from government officials, intimidation and arrests, physical and verbal abuse, and hijack at gunpoint.

The government has made a public statement promising ‘full commitment to free and unhindered access for the provision of humanitarian assistance to all persons in need’. Despite this, aid agencies continue to struggle to access humanitarian space. Several representatives of the NGO sector have had their representatives expelled for seemingly arbitrary reasons aimed to disrupt humanitarian activities. Operating in this environment requires careful negotiation at senior levels of government, and joint international advocacy and quiet diplomacy in coalition with other humanitarian agencies.