Key Issues

Responsibilities Toward All Persons With Specific Needs

In order to create an environment conducive to the protection and inclusion of PWSN, the Camp Management Agency must pay attention to all these groups throughout the camp's life cycle. Protection of PWSN must be mainstreamed in its coordination, information management, monitoring of services, maintenance of infrastructure and at camp closure. The Camp Management Agency has a major role to play in the recognition and equal access of PWSN to services and social life in the camp, without discrimination and stigma. The Camp Management Agency must ensure that:

  • a complete identification of PWSN is undertaken through population mapping, registration and shared data from service providers after:
    • staff of the Camp Management Agency and staff of specialised agencies have been trained in identifying PWSN, categories, context specific vulnerabilities and silent signs, as well as in rights and upholding of the rights of all groups and individuals
    • criteria for identification of PWSN, as well as appropriate interventions, have been agreed and developed by all stakeholders, including functional health ministries and the displaced persons
    • there is an Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming (AGDM) approach developed for all assessments
  • data is exchanged and shared between different service providers, when relevant and in confidentiality, to ensure complete identification and mapping of vulnerability
  • registered vulnerability and individual cases, as well as protection concerns faced by the camp population, are referred to specialised actors
  • specialised actors follow up with tailored responses. The capacities of family and/or network around the PWSN is strengthened, where reliable
  • camp design and lay-out is modified and adapted to ensure safe and dignified access for PWSN to facilities and services
  • protection, empowerment and participation of PWSN are mainstreamed and integrated across technical sectors and camp activities, including participatory assessments, complaint and response mechanisms, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • representative camp committees for PWSN are established and PWSN take part in camp governance and decision-making
  • well-functioning and sound coping mechanisms by PWSN themselves and family members, relatives and the communities are supported and monitored
  • information on services available in the camp and their right to services is adapted to, and accessible, by PWSN
  • awareness on PWSN is raised to mitigate the risk of resentment and conflict among the displaced population and with the host community
  • there is awareness towards changing vulnerabilities of PWSN as well as towards changing needs at different stages in the camp's life cycle.


Responsibilities Toward Particular Persons With Specific Needs

The protection and assistance needs of vulnerable persons in camps are context specific, and individuals at risk in any given situation will vary. Some of the persons who may, depending on the circumstances, have specific protection needs and to whom special attention must be paid, are described here.

Girls and Boys


Voice From the Field - Challenges in Protection of Girls and Boys In Northern Uganda

In post-conflict northern Uganda, in a large camp where the return process was initiated and where there were still feelings of fear and insecurity about a lasting peace agreement, members of the camp community were moving into what were called transition sites (return centres). When we spoke to the older persons' committee they explained that while they were not ‘home, home’, these sites were areas between the camp and their place of origin which enabled them to begin to rebuild their futures. The sites were close enough to their land to provide them with opportunities to begin cultivation and they were able to conduct Go-and-See visits to their original villages. In situations where they did not feel safe to stay, they were able to come back to the main camp at night, knowing that assistance and security was still available there.

While the provision of these transition sites had many benefits, there were also some challenges. It was invariably the parents, and most often the men, who lived, at least part-time, in transition sites. Children and adolescents stayed back in the main camp where school was still ongoing, distributions took place, other facilities were available and where many of the children had lived since they were born. Without the presence of their parents however, girls and young women were at greater risk. The older persons' committee told us that often grandparents were left in charge of the younger generation and that they were unable to provide adequately for them. Displacement had caused the social fabric and the ethical framework of the community to degenerate. Incidents of violence and abuse were common. Young men from within the camp community would rape and defile girls left alone. This pattern of abuse, they told us, was leading to conflict and to forced marriages. Parents of girls and young women were faced with an impossible choice between rebuilding their lives through the use of the transitional sites (return centres) or remaining in the camp for the protection of their daughters. Conversations with older people in the camp clearly indicated that community based solutions for the adequate protection of girls, and for the support of grandparents, need to be found.


All children, defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as persons who are below the age of 18, as well as adolescents (defined by UNICEF as children in three stages from ten to 19 years), need special care and attention in order to ensure that their physical, psychological, social and developmental needs are met. The Camp Management Agency must strive to uphold this definition in cultures where the age of children is defined differently. Internally displaced or refugee children may face far greater dangers due to their displacement, the disruption of family and community structures, as well as from the lack of resources which normally accompany such situations.

In a prolonged or protracted displacement setting, refugee or internally displaced children may be exposed to further risks of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, forced recruitment or forced labour. They may be denied birth registration and documentation or prevented from attending schools. School environments may be unsafe and expose them to exploitation and abuse. In these circumstances, specialised organisations may be entrusted with child protection programmes that promote the well-being and protection of children. The Camp Management Agency would then work closely with these specialised agencies to ensure that they jointly undertake child protection activities, such as psychosocial support, tracing and family reunification, and other forms of specialised support to children formally associated with armed groups, or best-interests determination (BID).

In shorter term displacement, the Camp Management Agency also has a responsibility to ensure that children are not exposed to protection threats in the camp and that children at risk are identified, their needs assessed and that action is taken to adapt or target assistance and programmes accordingly, all in coordination with and in support of functional line ministries and health actors. Similarly, the Camp Management Agency is responsible for ensuring that children contribute to decision-making processes that affect their lives and the life and protective situation in camp settings. In addition to the responsibilities towards all PWSN, a Camp Management Agency needs to take certain actions towards specialised actors to contribute to a protective environment for children to:

  • ensure birth-registration and provision of birth certificates
  • create child friendly spaces and activities in the camp
  • establish inclusive education arrangements in the camp or nearby areas.

☞ For more information on education as a protection tool, see Chapter 17, Education.

When dealing with the protection needs of children, the Camp Management Agency should be guided by the principle of the BID. This means that the best interests of the child should be pursued continuously as the primary objective in any decisions or actions taken affecting children. It should permeate all child protection and care issues.

☞ For more information on BID, see Guidelines on Formal Determination of the Best Interest of the Child developed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the References section.

Certain groups of children, including unaccompanied and separated children, child-headed households, and children who were associated with armed forces or groups, may be more susceptible to certain protection risks, including a heightened risk of military recruitment and (sexual) exploitation, abuse, trafficking, forced labour or violence. Targeted interventions to address the protection needs of these children are usually the task of specialised child protection organisations, when they are present. However, the Camp Management Agency has a coordination and supportive role to play, including to ensure a child-protective system is established by these child protection agencies.

Unaccompanied or Separated Children

Unaccompanied children are those who have been separated from both parents and relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so. Separated children are those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary care-giver, but not necessarily from their relatives. These may therefore include children accompanied by adult family members other than their parents. Orphans are children whose parents are both known to be dead. In some countries, however, a child who has lost one parent is also considered an orphan.

Being without their primary care structure, normally the parents, unaccompanied and separated girls and boys can face increased risk of protection problems. In addition to the responsibilities towards all PWSN and guided by the 2004 Interagency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children, the Camp Management Agency should:

  • prevent further child separation by initiating information and awareness sessions for all camp residents on the risks of separation during relocation or repatriation/return, or by certain activities which children may be asked to do outside the camp, for example collecting firewood
  • encourage the participation of residents in identifying and implementing measures which can be taken to prevent separation or abductions from occurring. These may include monitoring, awareness-raising, as well as developing response systems within the camp whereby children would know where to go and what to do if separated from their family
  • ensure that services are in place to trace parents or legal or customary primary care-givers with an aim of achieving family reunification as soon as possible, in close collaboration with line ministries
  • ensure that a child protection monitoring system, set up by responsible line ministries in collaboration with child protection agencies and NGOs, includes monitoring of unaccompanied and separated children. Volunteers among the IDPs or refugees can also be trained as community or social workers to assist in training and monitoring activities
  • promote the establishment of specialised psychosocial care in the camp, given the harmful effects that separation can have on a child’s psychological well-being.


Voice From the Field - Example of Psychosocial Support to Children and Adolescents in Uganda

An international NGO has been delivering a psychosocial support programme to help address the needs of formerly abducted children and adolescents in northern Uganda. The programme involves:

  • Interim care at a reception and reintegration centre. Upon arrival all children receive a medical check-up and required treatment at the local hospital. A psychosocial assessment is conducted for each child to determine the most appropriate course of action for him/her. Children also receive basic care and counselling and participate in activities designed to assist in their recovery.
  • Family tracing, unification and follow-up. As soon as a child arrives the NGO immediately begins the process of family tracing and reunification.
  • Community-based psychosocial support. Once a child returns to her/his family, a caseworker makes regular follow-up visits. Meetings are held with school heads to ensure that the child may resume his/her studies. Children and adolescents are encouraged to take part in NGO sponsored activities designed to assist all war-affected children and their families. These include community sensitisation, family and peer-group discussions, parent support groups, team sports, promotion of traditional dance, drama and cultural rituals, adolescent health education and life skills training, vocational skills training and income generation schemes.




When Is a Child a Child, an Adolescent or a Young Adult?

The point of transition from being considered a child to being a young adult, and the definition of adolescent, are culturally specific. This is something that the Camp Management Agency should discuss with the community and other service providers in the camp, for a commonly agreed definition for camp programmes. Usually biological determinants, like reaching puberty or being able to care for themselves independently, are used.


UNICEF defines adolescence in three stages: early (10-13 years of age), middle (14-16), late (17-19) adolescents. Adolescent girls and boys may have specific needs and face specific risks, particularly in situations in which the population is confined to the camp and where education, work and income-generating opportunities are limited. Adolescent boys and girls may not attend school and remain idle. In the long run this may create boredom, frustration and anger among some adolescent groups who may become the source of protection risks. In order to contribute to the protection of adolescent girls and boys and in addition to its responsibilities towards all PWSN, the Camp Management Agency should:

  • be aware that context specific and local understandings of youth and adolescence may differ from both national and international laws, as well as from United Nations' conventions and definitions
  • ensure that sufficient focus is given to the needs of adolescent boys and girls by advocating with humanitarian organisations for the establishment of targeted programmes such as sports and recreation, life, vocational and skills training and psychosocial support
  • remain aware that adolescent girls may face increased barriers to accessing services due to cultural, social or other reasons.


Challenges in Establishing a Youth Committee

A youth committee comprised of either or both camp and host community youth is often one of the most challenging committees to initiate, especially if not centred on team sports. For inclusive participation reasons, focusing youth activities and committee start-up solely on sports can be somewhat problematic. Often sports initiatives are not fully embraced by young females. Female youth from nearby host communities are often not granted permission by family members to travel into the camp to attend collective sports events with other youth, most notably males. Focus on sport can inadvertently further marginalise vulnerable and differently-able young people.


Voice From the Field - Tips for Establishing Youth Committees

  1. Promote women’s committees first if possible and let the youth committees’ development follow. Often when mothers, grandmothers and aunts experience the benefits (and skills acquired) from joining a camp committee they will in turn support, promote and even maintain certain aspects of the youth committee. In addition, female-headed or supported families often communicate information to family members, including young people.
  2. Develop a male-centred youth committee that is closely connected to any men’s committees/activities in the camp for skills promotion, as well as a sports network so that young males can stay busy and not be idle.
  3. Investigate youth structures in the surrounding host communities, first, to see how they are organised. Seek to gather useful youth information and common best practices. All too often, youth committees are promoted by adults who have little knowledge of or have lost touch with the local youth culture.



Certain groups of women have specific needs to which special attention must be paid, including female-headed households, like widows, and women without family support. These groups may face heightened security risks in a camp setting where shelter often offers little or no protection and limited physical privacy and security. They may be exposed to discrimination, harassment, trafficking and sexual exploitation or abuse and face additional difficulties in accessing humanitarian assistance. The fact that single female-headed households are managing their family needs on their own may prevent them from taking part in learning, skills training, social activities or income-generating programmes. The children of these households may also be at increased risk of abuse and exploitation. Widows may be denied inheritance rights or custody of their children by local laws or practices, including by the deceased husband’s family. Additionally, they may face harmful traditional practices, such as being forced to (re-)marry. Justice mechanisms may offer them little or no protection. Women and girls formerly associated with armed forces or groups may also face heightened protection risks, including risk of re-recruitment or abduction, risk of discrimination or abuse, including sexual abuse and exploitation. They may also have psychosocial needs due to their experiences. Their opportunities for family life may decrease, or their children may be shunned by the community. In addition to the responsibilities towards all PWSN, actions required by the Camp Management Agency include:

  • promoting the establishment of centres: having a space where women and girls can meet and talk privately without the presence of men can provide respite in camp settings
  • supporting activities which strengthen woman’s leadership, skills and capacities: this will contribute to their empowerment and, in turn, will improve their protection situation within the camp.


Voice From the Field - Innovative and Inclusive

An income generating programme for female-headed households was not going well. Attendance was poor due to issues concerning child care during classes or workshops. In search of a solution, the women started working together some providing child care while others attended class, and then they would switch.

Looking for a more satisfactory solution, the women came up with an innovative and inclusive solution. Older members of the camp were invited to come and do story-telling for the children. This not only provided entertainment and education to the children by passing on traditions and legends, it also gave older people a sense of purpose and belonging.


Older Persons

The UN defines old age as 60 years and above. Nevertheless, the concept of old age must be understood in broad terms. Being considered old is not necessarily a matter of age alone. Cultural considerations and factors such as life expectancy, health and economic conditions are relevant in considering inclusion within this category.

Older men and women are often denied access to services, jobs or treated with little respect. In camps, older persons may be particularly vulnerable and have specific protection needs. Dis-empowered older persons are often disproportionately affected in emergencies and are commonly overlooked in both immediate responses and rehabilitation. Often they are given limited, if any, opportunity to participate in programme planning. The needs and risks facing older persons are as a consequence often not registered. It is essential that assessment, registration and monitoring data are disaggregated by age and gender and that the specific vulnerabilities that older people may face, like living without care-takers, caring for children or being housebound, are recorded. Further, it is essential to ensure the participation of older people in the design of activities and services within the camps, their inclusion in participatory assessments and that programmes and activities are analysed from a gender, age and diversity perspective.


The Voice and Care of Older Persons

In many cultures older persons are highly respected, and play an important role in social and religious ceremonies and rituals within the community. They are often important at births, marriages, deaths and initiation rites. Traditionally valued for their wisdom and good counsel, in many cultures older persons also play a central role in traditional justice systems and in conflict resolution. They may have a particular role to play in guiding younger generations on issues of traditional cultural values and ethics. Their knowledge of their community and its traditions, coupled with their awareness of challenges that the community is facing in displacement, can be very useful, especially for Camp Management Agencies coming from abroad, seeking to understand and appropriately protect a camp population. At the same time, the Camp Management Agency should be aware that, contrary to common beliefs, older persons are not always cared for by their family and community. Discriminatory patterns may in fact be accentuated in humanitarian crises. When excluded by their own communities and families, older persons may become isolated and be unaware that humanitarian assistance is available.


In order to contribute to the protection of older persons and in addition to its responsibilities towards all PWSN, the Camp Management Agency should:

  • ensure awareness of silent signs and older persons’ possible vulnerabilities related to decreased mobility, access problems, limited literacy, special dietary needs and physical and sexual abuse
  • ensure there is awareness of risks for unaccompanied older persons of isolation, loneliness and depression
  • ensure that they are identified and recognised in programmes and activities, that their belongings are safe and that they are assisted if they have difficulties in collecting and carrying water, food supplies and non-food items
  • understand the role played by older persons in the community prior to displacement and in the displacement setting, and that they often are a key resource to the community, including in education, child care, communication, conflict resolution and leadership within their families and communities
  • work with specialised agencies to ensure that active older persons are included in skills training and income-generation programmes adapted to their needs and capacities or that alternative social protection schemes are made accessible to them
  • support the establishment of family tracing for unaccompanied older persons with a view to reuniting them with family members as soon as possible
  • coordinate with child-protection agencies to incorporate older persons in the design and implementation of child-friendly spaces
  • assess the need for and create older persons friendly spaces to offer the opportunity to interact meaningfully, engage in income generating activities or simply socialise with others so as to avoid loneliness and boredom.


Voice From the Field - Raising Awareness 

Here in northern Sri Lanka many of the long-term displaced who live in camps are well organised into committees and are very helpful to agencies doing assessments and distributions. What we found missing was attention to persons with specific needs, who were more vulnerable during distributions. We asked the camp committee to identify older persons and those with disabilities and to put their ration cards at the top of the pile. This was to ensure they could get help and assistance first and not have to stand in the sun and also so they could get the help of neighbours to carry things home for them. By insisting that older persons should have priority in the queue, and pushing the community to help them, it has created better awareness – among both children and adults. This now seems to be spilling over into other areas as well. In our monitoring activities people have asked us to include ‘elder-friendly’ items – like a scoop for bathing from a bucket, jumpers and shawls because older people feel the chill, and flasks so that tea and soup remain hot for longer.


Good Practice for the Protection of Older Persons

A good practice guide to protecting older persons in emergencies has been developed by HelpAge International. The Camp Management Agency needs to :

  • accurately highlight the impact of the crisis upon older persons and those in their care and make sure that data obtained is broken down by age, gender and diversity
  • consult older persons on their priority needs and ensure their participation in all stages of the project cycle, including designing and building shelters
  • include age-friendly features into temporary shelters and latrines and into those being repaired or constructed, including ramps, handrails, grab bars and lighting
  • coordinate responses with sector specific agencies and clusters (where these are activated), such as WASH, shelter and others focusing on core concerns, such as age and disability
  • resource practical programmes and research in order to provide appropriate support
  • promote and support age-friendly distribution processes and incorporate age-friendly features in service delivery
  • promote greater awareness and integration of ageing issues across the work of all sectors and actors in the camp setting in order to further the protection of older people
  • adhere to international standards of accessibility when building shelters and latrines.


Persons Affected by Sickness, Disibility or Trauma

Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines persons with disabilities as: “those individuals who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Physical, mental or other disabilities among the camp population may be heightened for protection risks, particularly in displacement settings when the family and community may be absent, or unable or unwilling to care for them. Disability may lead to the ostracism and marginalisation of adults and children with disabilities. Protection problems may range from obstacles in accessing humanitarian assistance, including access to appropriate housing and communal services, to increased exposure to sexual abuse and exploitation. Persons with disabilities may be excluded from project activities and decision-making processes. Children with disabilities may also have problems in accessing educational opportunities, may face abuse or isolation at home or discriminatory treatment by the community. The Camp Management Agency should promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, including mental disabilities, within the community by:

  • ensuring that camp services and facilities, such as latrines and showers, are accessible to persons with disabilities. Their access to services and relief items must be evaluated and, if necessary, alternative mechanisms should be put in place to deliver such services
  • establishing community-based support mechanisms for the delivery of assistance, monitoring their situation, including through home visits by volunteers, and working with their care-givers to ensure their specific needs, concerns, capacities and resources are taken into account when identifying protection risks and responses
  • encouraging agencies to hire persons with disabilities where possible.


Practical Solutions for Persons With Disabilities

Working with persons with disabilities does not always require technical specialists. Consulting with and ensuring participation of persons with disabilities in camp and programme activities is a necessary first step towards identifying their specific needs and appropriate solutions to protect their rights. Simple interventions can have a positive impact. For example:

  • handles at convenient heights on latrine doors
  • bars and support rails to hold onto around shelter and washing areas
  • a cushion to support a correct sitting position
  • a shady and comfortable sitting spot close to a shelter block, allowing easy access to and contact with the wider community
  • a path which allows wheel chair access.

Such solutions often cost very little, but require planning and an awareness of what is required. Community participatory assessment methods like focus group discussions can help a Camp Management Agency to support appropriate and specific solutions to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. For non-mobility-related disabilities the Camp Management Agency should ensure the consultation and participation of the concerned to the extent possible. However, the Camp Management Agency may want to seek support of an agency with the technical expertise to ensure inclusiveness and appropriateness.


Chronically Ill Persons

Chronically ill persons, including persons living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), individuals undergoing tuberculosis- treatment, persons living with diabetes or needing dialysis, may face heightened protection risks particularly in displacement settings where life-saving health care provided locally is not immediately available following conflict or disasters. Particular risks may be faced by persons living with HIV and by groups at higher risk of HIV. They may face discrimination and stigma, including from within their own family and community. The Camp Management Agency should:

  • advocate with health service providers that groups at risk of, or living with, HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis (TB) have full access to confidential prevention and treatment programmes
  • ensure that they are not isolated or criminalised
  • be attentive to discrimination and stigma on the basis of HIV/AIDS
  • advocate with health service providers and social and community workers to ensure that services to persons living with HIV/AIDS are provided in a manner that does not reveal their HIV status to the community
  • ensure confidentiality of HIV status.


Transportation to the Hospital

Access to hospitals and clinics can be a significant challenge for a camp population, especially if the camp is located some distance from the nearest town or village and members of the community have to walk to access medical attention. One solution can be to make an agreement with a member of the camp or host community who has a vehicle and is prepared to be available as a hospital taxi/ambulance service. This means that everyone is then aware of who to contact in an emergency, or when a person who is unable to walk requires medical transport. The community, in consultation with the vehicle owner, need to come up with a way in which s/he can be remunerated or compensated for the services and/ or the cost of the fuel.


Persons Affected by Trauma

Psychosocial problems in emergencies are interconnected, but they may be social or psychological in nature. Social problems may be related to people living in crowded camps, disruption of daily-life activities and routines and frustrations. Psychological problems in emergencies may be pre-existing mental problems as well as emergency or disaster-induced psychological conditions. There may be all kinds of mental illnesses, in addition to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of experiences during the conflict, disaster and/or flight. People may also suffer from anxiety and depression as results of fear and insecurity in relation to not accessing one’s rights and services and not being able to care for oneself and family members.

The Camp Management Agency needs to be aware of psychosocial problems. It must be able to relate unexpected and unfamiliar behaviour to possible mental suffering and trauma that can be solved, instead of viewing people as difficult or conflict-makers. It is therefore important to work closely with specialised health actors.


Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings: What Should Cccm Cluster/sector Lead Agency and Camp Management Actors Know?

Based on its 2007 Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Setting, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) has developed an overview of essential knowledge that humanitarian actors within the CCCM Cluster/Sector should have about mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in humanitarian emergencies.

In its MHPSS Intervention Pyramid there are four levels from bottom to top of the pyramid:

  • basic services and security (first level)
  • community and family support (second level)
  • focused non-specialised support (third level)
  • specialised services (fourth level).

Activities related to the different levels are for example advocacy, family tracing, communal services and livelihood programmes, individual psychological first aid, psychiatric support and long-term supervision.


Minority Groups

The population in a camp setting is rarely homogeneous. Camp populations may come from different geographical locations and be differentiated by ethnicity, language, religion and/or occupation/livelihoods. Managing these differences can be a challenging aspect for a Camp Management Agency, particularly if the minority group(s) and the majority group share few commonalities or live in a tense situation. While in some situations individuals might have been displaced as a group and preserved established and cohesive social structures, other situations might lead to multiple, disparate, and badly-fractured social structures. This may lead to limited cohesion at best and tensions or conflicts at worst.

Understanding the interactions and relations between the various minority groups is essential for the Camp Management Agency. A lack of understanding of the relations may lead to exacerbating power imbalances, enhancing discrimination or perpetuating conflicts. To contribute to the protection of minorities in the camp population, and in addition to its responsibilities towards all PWSN, the Camp Management Agency should:

  • use the results of the participatory assessments to analyse the context and interaction between the various camp groups and inform camp programming and design of activities
  • locate camp facilities and services in a manner which ensures that minority groups have meaningful, safe access to them, including ensuring availability and access to religious services and places of worship
  • encourage and support organising of events to celebrate cultural traditions and practices.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Individuals

Human Rights are universal and protect all human beings, including sexual minorities, from being discriminated against. The Sphere Project; Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, state that aid is given regardless of race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. There is consensus that aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone.

Awareness about this can be of importance to the Camp Management Agency as LGBTI individuals often are stigmatised and might be as risk of physical assaults, violence or even persecution simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. National laws often criminalise being an LGBTI individual. Negative attitudes are still prevalent, also among aid workers. LGBTI individuals are regularly excluded from assistance. It is therefore imperative to prioritise safety and non-discrimination, and not to put LGBTI individuals at further risk. It is important to support LGBTI individuals’ safe and dignified access to services. Sexual orientation should be kept confidential at all times because of the danger to which a person could be exposed. To contribute to the protection of LGBTI individuals, the Camp Management Agency should:

  • increase awareness on protection issues facing LGBTI individuals through NGO coordination forums
  • identify local agencies in the host community or country that have experience working with LGBTI individuals.
  • identify opportunities to leverage their experience to support assistance to LGBTI individuals
  • work with specialised protection agencies to establish a mechanism for handling protection concerns relating to LGBTI individuals. This can include the establishment of safe spaces and of support services, like designated onestop- centres, where services including legal counseling, temporary shelter, healthcare and psychosocial support can be provided. This can also entail working with UNHCR and NGOs to assist LGBTI individuals to report violent incidents to the police should they decide to do so.


Voice From the Field - Violence Towards LGBTI Individuals in Haiti

Following the devastating earthquake of January 2010 in Haiti, more than a million displaced Haitians lived in over 1,000 spontaneous settlements. LGBTI Haitians interviewed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and a Haitian NGO expressed the view that violence related to sexual orientation and gender expression significantly increased after the earthquake, particularly within the IDP camps.

Overcrowding, flimsy structures, inadequate lighting, public bathing facilities and general insecurity in IDP camps increased the risk of GBV, including violence towards LGBTI people, especially because established coping mechanisms were disrupted in the wake of the earthquake. The Haitian NGO has documented the rape of lesbians, gay men and transgender women in or near camps and of more subtle forms of sexual exploitation in which LGBTI people were coerced into engaging in sexual relations with straight-identified men for food or money. A group of lesbian and bisexually-identified women interviewed by the Haitian NGO and IGLHRC reported that sexual violence was definitely a problem in the IDP camps.



Men, like all other groups, may face context-specific protection risks. This may include demobilised individuals who may risk exclusion by the community or idle young men at risk of recruitment by armed groups. While the specific needs of women, children, and persons with disabilities are largely recognised, the Camp Management Agency must also be aware of specific needs of men.

Camp settings can be particularly stressful for men because camp life often changes the nature of men’s frequent traditional primary role in many cultures, that of providing for their families and leading the community. Men in camps will likely be unable to continue with their primary livelihood activities and will be, at least somewhat, reliant on outsiders to provide their families with food, shelter and household items. A degree of their autonomy may be lost. The loss, or partial loss, of these important functions can leave men idle and/or alienated and feeling degraded, inadequate and without purpose, even depressed. The Camp Management Agency, in coordination with specialised protection actors, should assess and analyse the situation of men in the camp and identify their specific needs for targeted interventions.


Voice From the Field - Gender Differences in Experiencing Stress in Darfur Camps

A 2009 study in Darfur displacement camps found that men experienced more stress than women, indicating that this related to life in camp having a worse effect on the dignity of men than that of women. It found that while women can continue their traditional roles in camp, men often can no longer do so.

“The somewhat surprising finding that men reported more stress overall than women…likely reflects a culturally-prescribed gender role for men in which they are responsible for securing resources for the family. During pre-testing, many men told us that the Quran prescribes men’s duties as making money and bringing resources into the family, whereas women’s were relegated to domestic care giving. In the refugee camps the female domestic sphere was maintained, while the male sphere of employment and money was more fragile. Men’s concerns were even higher when living near NGOs. This may be related to a possible secondary gain, in which impaired functioning is reinforced by easier access to humanitarian aid”.