On 5-10 September, Warsaw University, as every year, hosted the NOHA (Network on Humanitarian Action) course which was attended by VU Faculty of Law graduate Agnė Albrechtaitė and VU Institute of International Relations and Political Science postgraduate Guoda Paužaitė.
The course was aimed at discussing the humanitarian aid related problems, challenges, goals, and reviewing the latest research carried out in this area. The event at Warsaw University gathered together more than 150 students from more than 40 countries and all continents of the world. The course was opened by Vice-Rector of the University of Warsaw Jolanta Choinska-Mika, NOHA president Mr Joost Herman and other honoured guests. For most of the student participants, the course was an introduction to one and a half years long study programme, which will take place in twelve different European universities.
The first course day was dedicated to the presentation of the NOHA programme. Robert Smith, Head of the Geneva office of the World Humanitarian Summit secretariat, gave the principal speech. In his speech, Smith stressed the perspectives of the future humanitarian action, the relationship with the state, and constantly changing conditions of the humanitarian aid. Currently, the world is mostly suffering from internal conflicts, thus, people engaged in the humanitarian aid are facing huge challenges.
On the second day of the course, students were introduced to the basics of international law (a lecture delivered by Warsaw University professor Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza), conflict typology and principles. Another representative of Warsaw University Zuzanna Kulinska gave a presentation on “The Right to Humanitarian Assistance”. Morever, Marseille University professor Marie-Jose Domestici-Met introduced the students to the concept of geopolitics and the basic geopolitics ideas, while stressing the role of natural resources in conflicts and illustrating her ideas by the example of the Sudan and South Sudan conflict. The day culminated in the testimony of a special conference guest – a refugee from Syria Ossama Almohsen. The audience welcomed the refugee with a myriad of questions, which grew out into an interesting and meaningful discussion.
The rest of the course was dedicated to a deeper and more specific understanding of NGOs and related institutions. What is more, the event included various workshops, film screenings, presentations on local and global organizations (UNICEF Poland, Polish Aid, The Red Cross, Doctors Sans Frontiers), discussions focused on relevant events and humanitarian crises, etc.
According to the participants from Vilnius University, the NOHA intensive course was a horizons-expanding experience, which demonstrated the complexity and necessity of humanitarian organizations. The NOHA organized an event of high quality with perfectly qualified lecturers and experienced practitioners. Finally, the intensive course was aimed at spreading the message that it is crucial to understand what kind of help people need in the epicentres of humanitarian crises, and that each humanitarian worker is equally important. Only with this in mind will the humanitarian aid be effective.