Break-out session: Resilience in a fragile context: focus on the relief provider

This session explores how resilience of humanitarian workers is affected when crises affect their own livelihoods, with two volunteer workers of the Lebanese Red Cross, Hussein Najem and Roger Bafitos, and Mathijs van Leeuwen (Radboud University Nijmegen).

Moderator: Raimond Duijsens (Netherlands Red Cross/IS Academy). Break-out round 1 & 2.

Raimond Duijsens opens the session, and explains the approach to resilience and fragility:

  1. By looking at resilience we look at the “flip side of fragility”. Instead of emphasizing what does not work, we look at what does work. Resilience should be understood as how people deal with a crisis and how they come out of a crisis.
  2. The focus is on individuals, not on communities or indeed the state.
  3. We take a look at those working within a crisis: how does the environment of a fragile setting affect their ability to continue their work and how does it inform their decisions?

Hussein Najem and Roger Bafitos then share their first-hand experience on the work of the Lebanese Red Cross. Mathijs van Leeuwen continues and talks about how framing practices can (mis)shape how organisations respond to crises, giving examples from research on organisations working in DRC.

Based on the experiences of Hussein Najem and Roger Bafitos and the more academic contribution of Matthijs van Leeuwen, the discussion focuses on the “the local narrative”. Participants of the session note that the local narrative of a crisis or conflict and the political realities of people are often different from the conflict at the overarching level. Big differences may not exist on a smaller level. It is argued that we should go to the ground to make a better analysis of what is actually happening. Also, organisations need to become more aware that their backgrounds have effects on the interventions they carry out. This is a challenge for both practitioners and researchers.

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