IRRC No. 265

Protection and assistance for refugees in armed conflicts and internal disturbances: Reflections on the Mandates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the Office of the United N...

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This article examines the mandate to protect and assist refugees in armed conflicts and internal disturbances. It is a modest attempt to clarify the web of overlapping roles and mandates of humanitarian bodies, in particular the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (“the Movement”) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It purports to re-assess the evolution of their mandate and its extension. On the one hand, there is a need to define concrete principles, based on past and present practice, for humanitarian action. On the other, there must be sufficient leeway for flexibility and pragmatism in situations for which there is no comprehensive prognosis. The article concludes by demonstrating the interdependence and complementarity of humanitarian organizations which have to proffer protection and assistance where no other body can act.

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