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Disaster Response Training

Disaster Response under Protracted Conflict Setting Training 


Protracted crises and conflict are increasingly becoming common.  The 2016 ICRC report 

Highlights features, definitions and action.  Additionally the FAO notes that there are three types of intervention that humanitarian agencies can engage in response to protracted crises:

- livelihood provisioning—the objective is to meet immediate basic needs and protect people’s lives

- livelihood protection—the objective is to protect and support people’s assets and to prevent the sale or destruction of productive assets

- livelihood promotion—the objective is to improve livelihood strategies and assets, and to support key policies and institutions that can boost livelihoods

Livelihood protection and promotion requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that targets the both the causes and effects of vulnerability. The effectiveness of any response is also sensitive to timing; the earlier humanitarian agencies are able to provide assistance in countries facing protracted crises, the better the chances that food security and livelihoods can be protected.

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Palestine: A Clear Example of Protracted Conflict and Humanitarian Crisis in Modern Era. 

The year 2018 marked not only the 70th year of the creation of the state of Israel, but also the 51st year of the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. 

Historical Perspective

The League of Nations placed Palestine under the British Mandate from 1923 to 1947. In 1948, the UN issued UN Resolution 181 to partition Palestine into two states, Palestine and Israel, with Jerusalem placed under international administration. Israel was created on 78% of the land and forced 750,000 Palestinians to flee during the 1948 war as refugees. The remaining geographical areas, i.e. the West Bank and Gaza Strip, were occupied following the Arab-Israeli war in 1967alongside territories of neighbouring Arab countries. The lands occupied in 1967 are internationally recognized as occupied (Palestinian) territories.

The first Intifada (Civilian Uprising) in 1987 led to Oslo Accords and a peace process that UN Resolutions have been unable to bring into effect. The critical issue now is to consider what steps are needed to restore and improve the living conditions of affected populations with a view to ensuring respect for basic rights and offering a durable and sustainable political solution to the conflict. This requires not only responding to the symptoms, but also to the underlying causes of the conflict. 

In the view of the ICRC, one of the keys to a solution lies in the recognition and application of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, over which Israel exercises actual authority – first and foremost the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides a critical framework to ensure respect for the life and dignity of people living under occupation .  However,in the West Bank, especially in Area C (According to the Oslo Agreement  area C is the area under the full control (administrate and security) of Israel ) which represents over 60% of the total space of the West Bank, in addition to East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities have exclusive control, and exercise policies that impose restrictions on aspects of normal daily life of the Palestinian population. This includes increasing rates of land confiscation, demolitions of houses, building settlements, restrictions on movement and checkpoints, arrests and settler violence. 

In the Gaza Strip, 10 years of the blockade imposed by the Israeli authorities, three large scale wars and the internal division have resulted in a severely deteriorated humanitarian situation, leaving a population of 1.94 million Palestinians living in the biggest open-air prison in history. As a result, the Gaza Strip suffers from immense shortages of medical supplies, electricity and fuel, in addition to vast restrictions on movement with a high rate of denial of permits for patients seeking treatment outside of Gaza. 

The 51-day war in Gaza in 2014, resulted in 2,256 Palestinians deaths and 11,295 injuries, displacing over 70,000 internally displaced people. An open-ended cease fire was agreed upon on 26 August 2014, however agreed upon clauses of the ceasefire were not all implemented, hence the door is open for a hold of the cease fire and potentially new escalation in hostilities to take place.The Oslo Accords have cemented a system of economic dependency and land fragmentation whereby 60% of the West Bank territory, known as Area C, and East Jerusalem, remain under exclusive Israeli control. 

Palestinians continue to suffer from policies, including the Separation Wall, settlement construction/ expansion, land confiscation, home demolition, political detention, settler violence, and extrajudicial killing.  One direct result of these policies has been the creation of chronic humanitarian needs among Palestinians. In 2017, nearly half of the 4.8 million Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) needed humanitarian aid. Many require food assistance to compensate for lost livelihoods, basic needs such water, healthcare or shelter, as well as legal aid. In a ‘normal’ year – i.e. one without a conflict in Gaza – around US$1 billion is required to sustain the various humanitarian needs in the oPt.

PRCS Disaster Management 

Since its establishment, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has responded to those affected by disasters, in accordance with its mandate of providing humanitarian support to all those in need whether affected by the occupation, man-made or natural disasters.

The objective of the PRCS-Disaster Management (DM) Units to "Strengthen the concept of risk reduction among local communities and to increase the PRCS’ ability to respond to disasters.”PRCSDM's goals include increasing the resilience of the Palestinian communities to enable them to prevent, cope with, and recover from emergencies, to reinforce partnerships with various parties at regional, national and international levels and to contribute to the development of a National Disaster Response Coordination body.  Over the past 20 years, PRCS has responded to many acute emergencies and continued its services up to 100,000 families due to the protracted crisis.

In cooperation with PRCS departments, and other key national stakeholders, the Disaster Management Unit is on standby each day, ready to assist by providing assistance such as emergency shelter and essential household items as well as health services through the different PRCS programmes for thousand of families. PRCSDMU responds at a national level, but also at international level when required. PRCS has taken deployed emergency personnel to undertake international relief missions in Algeria, India and Indonesia, Kosovo, Libya, Morocco, Yemen etc. 

In its auxiliary role, PRCS has, with the Palestinian Authority participated in the ongoing development of Disaster risk Reduction Law, and contingency planning initiatives.  Additionally, PRCS participates in the UN Humanitarian Country Team and the Shelter Cluster.Not only a part of the International Red CrossRed Crescent (RCRC) Movement, PRCS is also a member of the Higher Committee for Civil Defence in Palestine, the MENA Disaster Management Advisory Group (RCRC Movement), and the World Risk Reduction Program.

The PRCS National Disaster Response Team

To augment the disaster response tools of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, PRCSDMU has developed a National Disaster Response Team (NDRT), comprised of PRCS staff and volunteers trained in emergency response. There are over 1500 trained members in the NDRT pool available for immediate deployment. The NDRT is made up of members with cross-sectoral expertise such as; health, logistics, water and sanitation, as well as generalist relief workers. The NDRT members are trained to meet the priority needs of affected communities including rapid damage assessment, first aid, international humanitarian law, camp and shelter management, emergency health services, psychosocial support and logistics. Training not only consists of improving technical skills, but also interpersonal and team management skills. It is essential that the members of the NDRT are “team-players” and are able to work well under pressure and in challenging circumstances. 

PRCS facilitates an annual National Disaster Response Team training camp for around 50 volunteers. The camp, held over 10 days, aims to provide participants with competencies in line with current international standards in the field of disaster management. The camp aims to build practical skills on issues such as water and sanitation, shelter, food and nutrition, rapid assessment in case of disasters, disaster response, media and information. An extended simulation exercise aims to put theory into practice. The camp not only builds the volunteers’ technical skills in disaster response but importantly fosters relationships and team spirit always required for a team to function efficiently when faced with disaster. However, given the protracted nature of the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories PRCS has adapted its NDRT training to more closely reflect the current context, consequently from 17-22November 2019, PRCS will host, for the first time, the “Emergency Response in Protracted Conflicts & Humanitarian Crisis Training Course”, which is open to international participants.

PRCS NDRT Conflict Experience

Throughout the period of the occupation, PRCS has gained significant disaster response experience; particularly during the acute hostilities.  In 2014, a humanitarian emergency was declared in the Gaza Strip, following a severe escalation in hostilities. During the conflict, PRCS deployed more than 700 volunteers and 1000 plus staff to respond to the immediate needs of the affected people, including 122 ambulances were activated both in Gaza and West Bank. (Is there a summary report to annex)

More recently in 2018, PRCS NDRT trained volunteers were deployed as a result of the “Great Return March” in Gaza (which still continue in 2019). PRCS mobilized all EMS teams and ambulance fleet. The EMS teams treated in total 47,222 emergency cases during the twice weekly marches. Additionally, at PRCS hospitals, psychological first aid was given to 5,018 injured and hospitalized people and also to some 5,669 family members and injured PRCS staff. During this period, 52 ambulances were hit by tear gas and bullets, injuring 166 of PRCS staff and volunteers. In addition, PRCS operations provided relief material and shelter needs to community’s nearby demonstration sites. In 2018, a total of 1,425 families benefited from food parcels and 39 households received shelter relief items. 

Purpose of the training

To develop the knowledge, skills and competencies of Red Cross Red Crescent emergency responders, to be  able to respond to humanitarian crises within protracted conflict settings. 

Outcome of the training:

By the end of the training, participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of emergency response in protracted crises;
  • Be able to plan, implement, evaluate emergency operations in complex and protracted crises;
  • Be familiar with the surge tools available for deployment, and their application in the field;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of IHL in action particularly in relation to contexts of protracted armed conflict  and occupation.

Training Overview

The training will take place in Masafer Bani Naim, a desert area in the West Bank of Palestine. This location was chosen in order to place the participants in a simulated “disaster response environment.”Consequently, most of the training sessions will be held in the field. accommodations during the training will be in a tented camp erected by the participants themselves and must come prepared to operate in an extremely austere living/working environment.  

Taking into consideration the context in Palestine the coming training will be different from the previous NDRT trainings since the training will focus more on the topics of the complex setting.  The field exercises will focus on the response to emergency under the protracted setting.

The training team will present the PRCS experience in responding to disasters under the protracted setting as well as PRCS  will coordinate with many partners (PRCS, IFRC, ICRC, PNS, Al Najah University, Civil Defence, UNRWA, OCHA and WHO) to share their experience in the protracted setting in order to enrich the training.

will be coordinated in order to explain their experience in responding to disasters under this situation.

Participant Selection Criteria

1.Knowledge of the Movement and the humanitarian sector

    a.Staff or volunteer of a National Society;

    b.Experience with the Red Cross Red Crescent in the technical field of expertise;

    c.Actual operational experience in disasters;

    d.Experience with disaster management procedures and different sectors of response;

  e.Familiarity with the IFRC and ICRC  Principles and Rules for Humanitarian Assistance, Movement tools, policies and procedures:

   f.Demonstrated soft skills including relationship building, conflict resolution, communication skills, cultural awareness and ability to work in high pressure context; 

   g.Age between 25-35 years. 

2.National Society’s acceptance that the participant to be deployed as part of Movement including IFRCs surge capacity tools, once per 18 months and participate in refresher training.

Participant Preparatory Work and Expectations

All participants are required to have completed the following trainings available on the IFRC learning platform at the time of submission of the application:

  • Code of Conduct 
  • World of Red Cross (WORC)
  • Stay Safe Security Management
  • Principles and rules for RCRC Humanitarian Assistance
  • International Disaster Relief Law (IDRL)
  • Introduction to IHL ICRC online course.


Application, Selection, and Assessment Procedures

  1. The NS nominates one participant who meet the selection criteria
  2. The NS sends the CVs and application form of the participants along with the official nomination to the contact person specified in invitation email by the deadline of 15/9/2019
  3. A selection committee will select a max of 25 participants out of the nominations, based on the criteria in Section 8. 
  4. NS informed of outcome of nomination. 
  5. Selected participants will have to complete the preparatory work (Section 4)
  6. Participants will be assessed upon completion of the training by a committee of facilitators.

Course Facilitators

PRCS, IFRC, ICRC, PNS, Al Najah University, Civil Defence, UNRWA, OCHA and WHO


Field Exercise Masafer Bani Naim – near Hebron.