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Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 1 IDRL Operations in the Horn of Africa - some identified legal issues
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 2 The questionnaire: a few examples Did your organisation provide its support on the basis of an appeal for international assistance? All of the responders said they worked on the basis of an international appeal. We know that some did respond an appeal, but failed to coordinate with national authorities and UN OCHA. (Ramadan, spontaneaous inititatives, ‘briefcase NGOs’) Did your government counterpart designate a specific focal agency/department for you to coordinate your operations with? All except those working in Somalia (but decentralised local counterpart)
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 3 The questionnaire: a few examples Did you have to register to operate in the countries concerned? All, except those working in Somalia, where there is no central authority to register with. Most major actors registered before the operations commenced. Comment: “registration seems like a reasonable requirement”
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 4 The questionnaire: a few examples Have you encountered any problems with the delivery of humanitarian assistance at customs, such as : Visas and/or work permits for international disaster relief personnel? 3 responders had problems, in particular with work permits and driver’s permits and residence permits. These problems were solved through an agreement with the government, but it is taking time to see the effect at decentralised level. However, registration was experienced as very complicated by some: a lot of paperwork and in one case a 3 tier process that has to be repeated over and over again. One organisation qualified the situation as ‘unworkable’. Several actors did not wait for their working permits and went in on a tourist visa.
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 5 The questionnaire: a few examples Waivers of duties, tariffs and fees (including storage fees pending clearance)? Less than half of the responders reported being waived for importation of humanitarian goods, most of which were working with a local counterpart or had a separate agreement with the government. No general regulations reported. Simplified paperwork requirements for emergencies? None but one (Somali Red Crescent) which reported to have access to straightforward procedures. of the responders reported having encountered simplified paperwork procedures – several responded that this would be “worthwhile” and ”beneficial to reduce lead time to the operations”. Example: slumfire, international appeal - specialised technical equipment never made it through customs.
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 6 The questionnaire: a few examples Priority clearance for relief goods and equipment? 3 responders reported priority clearance Pre-clearance procedures for relief goods and equipment or reduction of inspection requirements? Most responders were not sure if there were any pre-clearance procedures in place. Re-exportation of equipment and unused goods? Responders reported still being active, so had no information on this, except one – this actor mentioned that all vehicles have to be re-exported but that domestic regulations do not allow for that.
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 7 Particular comments What other regulatory problems have you encountered in the process of initiating, coordinating, transferring and importing of international disaster relief during the operations in the Horn of Africa? “The process is long, tedious and ends up delaying the delivery of goods in the field. Response should have simplified procedures to enable us to respond in good time and rapidly”; Import, especially of food items, has to be discussed and agreed with the authorities; Government employees demand per diem for their cooperation with operations, this responder had been registered in country prior to the operation; A Bill of Lading of humanitarian goods was put in with commercial goods. A tax waiver required a separate Bill. This process took almost a week.
Saving lives, changing minds. IDRL Slide 8 Examples of good practice What examples have you encountered of national legal and policy frameworks for facilitating and regulating international disaster relief do you see as good examples that other countries might want to emulate? Negotiate with various authorities for exemptions on response commodities and ensure the process is short and simple “The Ethiopian Government has clear and quite robust structures in teh administration of Food Security Operations and Refugees/Returnees and displaced. The international partner needs to be aware of this as the local partner will be significantly committed and the agreements contain some clauses that we as international partner cannot support.” No to problems experienced by Somali Red Crescent Designing and adopting National Disaster Policy and Plan in Afghanistan in 2003, this helped regulate and therefore facilitate import of relief goods;
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