Global Protection Update: Don't I Matter? Civilians under fire, September 2021


All protection responders would have heard an echo of what the Global Protection Cluster was told in DR Congo earlier this month by a lady that, with another 10 mothers, set up a group that save and reintegrate boys and girls recruited by armed groups. For them, like for us, Protection of Civilians is not an abstract idea. It is a village, a hospital, a school, a market, a water network, a camp for boys, girls, men, women, elderly, displaced who have names and dreams. Since our last global protection update we have seen the protection and coping crisis in our operations deepen due to the converging challenges of armed conflict, the pandemic, economic downturn, rising inequality and climate change. It is complex. Yet our operations report it simply. Conflict and violations of basic norms remain the single biggest driver of protection challenges today. Individuals and local communities are under fire. People we work with and who are already pushed to the back of the queue – women, children, people with disabilities, displaced, minorities, the elderly – continue to be hit the hardest and are increasingly marginalized. Today, civilians are not only collateral damage in wars but deliberate and direct targets. Displaced persons increasingly find themselves caught up in or near armed conflict with States and non-State groups who often disregard the basic principles of the law. With 90% of our Clusters (28 out of 31 field operations) operating in active conflict settings, the protection of civilians remains critical and deserves greater consideration in humanitarian decision- making and response. Sixteen years after the establishment of the cluster system, this report features good practices from our Protection Clusters in Afghanistan, CAR, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Ukraine, where we exert efforts in providing more effective protection to civilians through a collective push and a system-wide response. It highlights the use of protection tools, programming, and collective advocacy – connecting the dots between the global protection of civilians’ agenda in the Security Council and the reality of our field work. It reinforces our understanding that local networks are the main framework for protection, like Jeel Albena, this year’s UNHCR - Nansen Refugee Award winner, supporting displaced persons on the frontlines of the crisis in Yemen. GLOBAL PROTECTION UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2021 DON’T I MATTER? CIVILIANS UNDER FIRE