Non-governmental and international organizations-1

  1. Introduction

Non-governmental and international organizations are fundamental institutions existing in society. Their work in social services in a humanitarian aspect dramatically increases the quality of life for individuals worldwide by improving their living standards. There are many types of non-governmental organizations, all with different roles and visions but with the same goal; making the world a better place. The most prominent job performed by non-governmental organizations is alleviating suffering through community development of the economies and infrastructure (Delisle et al. 2005 pg. 2). Humanitarian crises exist worldwide, and it is the work of NGOs to deal with these crises as they are the best-equipped mediators. These crises exist in terms of war, hunger, famine, displacement of communities, and natural disasters. Displacement of communities is a seemingly common theme, especially in war-torn countries. People try to flee their countries searching for better lives, and these organizations help them find asylum and start new lives in safer environments (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1994). Analyzing the Syrian refugee crisis, this paper hopes to shed light on the importance of non-governmental and international organization in humanitarian crisis. Non-Governmental Organizations are the key to alleviating the suffering of refugees.

  1. Inner Workings
  2. Mandate

Non-governmental organizations have different jobs and mandates in different jurisdictions. As much as their job is to help, non-governmental organizations must be allowed to help the bilateral organizations. The governments understand that they cannot perform sustainability work on their own as there are already too many responsibilities on their plate (Young & Dhanda, 2012 Pg. 215). Therefore, the government creates, facilitates, and mandates policies concerning sustainable development. The government is responsible for who is allowed to perform sustainable development; hence, bilateral institutions are the key to allowing growth in countries. The work of non-governmental organizations is seen as foreign aid, and governments are allowed to say whether they will accept foreign aid. The acceptability of foreign aid is determined by whether the aid has been seen to be sustainable or not.

In some cases, foreign aid has been seen to not necessarily help the crisis existing in the countries or, in worse cases, lead to imperialism and corruption (Niyonkuru, 2016 pg 3&4). Non-Governmental organizations are independent entities from the government; however, they require governments that inform more than mandate and jurisdiction. The concept is that federal and state governments fund non-governmental organizations through grants (Funds for NGOs, 2009). Therefore, grants from bilateral aid are some of the most significant sources of funding for non-Governmental organizations.

Non-Governmental organizations also receive funding from other sources such as donations and subscriptions, but bilateral funding makes up most of their income. Several goods NGOs sell in their income-generating projects to get funding to sustain the organizations (Folger, 2020). There is thus a visible correlation between non-governmental organizations and the governments as they exhibit a symbiotic relationship. The government needs non-Government aid organizations, and NGOs need governments for grants to perform their work effectively (Pettijohn, 2013). If governments decide to accept aid from non-governmental organizations, what is the work of non-Governmental organizations, and how do they ensure that their role in sustainability is performed?

  1. Humanitarian Emergency Response

There are specific non-governmental organizations trained to take charge of the crisis in cases of a humanitarian emergency. The NGOs are grouped according to the crisis, thus making it easier to know who deals with what in case of a crisis. The work of the NGOs is preferred as they are fast-acting, actively trained for disaster management, have the funds needed to maintain the problem and flexibility with the apt ability to create public awareness. An example is how the World Health Organization was quick to control the 2020 Corona Virus Pandemic by issuing information worldwide and facilitating foreign aid to the impoverished countries. There, however, must be procedures and every humanitarian crisis have its process needed to be taken. However, the most important thing is to protect the maximum number of people by removing them from the imminent danger that exists due to the crisis. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) work, for example, is to make sure all children are protected in any case of danger, including war, drought, famine, or displacement (UNICEF, 2021). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deals with displaced refugees as their main priority (UNHCR, 2006 pg 1 & 2). It is evident that for every humanitarian crisis, there is an organization mandated to deal with the situation first and control how other actors are to react.

Assuming the case study of the Syrian refugees shall allow a deeper understanding of the action of non-Governmental organizations and International Organizations in Humanitarian crisis. Therefore, the focus will be on international organizations such as the European Union and UN agencies and local Syrian NGOs in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis.

  • Background of Syrian Crisis

There has been an influx of wars in the Middle East due to the rejection of the authoritarian regimes in seeking a better form of government that promotes life sustainability. Syria is in the Middle East and has been ruled in an iron fist dictatorial regime for a few years. In the wake of the Arab spring, there were protests in Syria to remove the leaders from the position and instil a new rule. President Bashar al-Assad, who was the residing leader from the prominent Asaad family, refused to step down in the wake of the Arab Spring and protesters were punished for rejecting the authoritarian regime (BBC News, 2019). Thus, a civil war initiated between the President, the military, and outside actors that would like to seize Syria for its resources (BBC, 2018). The country erupted in civil war as they fight to gain the power of the country took over, and many lives were lost in the events. Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS took the war as an opportunity to increase their traction, and they saw that taking over Syria was the best play for their goals to be met. The military and rebels wanted to take control and dethrone the president to assume a more democratic form of leadership (Al Jazeera, 2018). The civilians were trapped between the dictatorial regimes, the military rebels, and the Islamic extremists with no way out of the country.

Over the years, the war has been worsened by the interference of foreign actors. Foreign actors take sides either with the president, the military rebels, or the Islam extremists, funding the war from outside (BBC News, 2019). There has also been an influx of soldiers from other countries such as the US, which have made it harder for a consensus to be reached among the conflicting parties

With all this war, the problems that existed in Syria before the Arab spring persist. There is still intense hunger and malnutrition, high unemployment rates and immense amounts of corruption. On top of that, the countries are so war-torn that children born in Syria know nothing but war. Many have managed to flee the country, but many civilians have died in the Civil War. Most of the population, however, have been displaced within Syria. Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan have managed to take up a few refugees in camps that are getting increasingly full (BBC, 2018). The Syrian Refugee crisis is one of the biggest ones seen as the camps are filling up faster than the involved parties can help find them placements and homes. It is also increasingly difficult to escape the war and leave the countries due to the impositions put on the civil wars by territorial beings such as the president and the rebels.

The efforts to escape were well received but unprepared. The refugees who could not find placement in the neighbouring countries found Asylum in Europe. The problem, however, was that European countries were not at capacity to hold on to the refugees that were coming in. The countries in the European Union chipped in as much as they could; however, there was a bulk of work they could not take up due to internal problems emerging from the great depression (European Commission, 2013). One of the main problems is that Syria has been so self-isolated from the world due to its economic self-sufficiency and thoughts of extremism (Bosman, 2012 pg. 2). The self-isolation means that there had to be hesitation in helping as there was fear of backfire from the parties in the civil war that try to take control of Syria. With all this in mind, there had to be apt consideration as to which Non-Governmental Organization would swoop in and aid the Syrian refugees. The emergent needs for the refugees were in terms of food, water, shelter, and healthcare. The involved NGOs have thus been able to divide their work to ensure that the crisis is taken care of to the best of their abilities

  1. Humanitarian Assistance

Even before the civil war ensued, there were very tight restrictions held on NGOs and international Organizations that dared to try and help. The governments give the mandate to the operation of organizations within their territories. If the governments find that NGOs cause interference in their operations, they may impose restrictions. Sadly, this has been the case in Syria, with NGO interventions by the UN seen as a trojan horse to try and delegitimize the government (Parker, 2013). The Syrian Refugee crisis was greatly influenced by the European Union, which has provided the funding needed for several NGOs to aid in the crisis. NGOs work under international organizations most times, and the most recognized group of international organizations is the UN agencies. The UN agencies responsible for the Humanitarian crisis in Syria are mainly the UNHCR and UNICEF.

  1. European Union

The European Union has been a big help in the humanitarian crisis in Syria despite their noticeable handicap in hosting most of the refugees. The European Union has had their eye on Syria since the absolution of Syria into the union as they see the country as key to peace in the middle east. The European Union advocated for the toppling of the oppressive Assad regime and tried their hardest to help where they could in the Arab Spring (NAS, 2019 pg 52). The European Union has been the advocates for other international organizations and UN agencies to penetrate the area. With advocacy being a job of an international organization, it is no surprise that the European Union managed to get a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid staff to penetrate Syria and help the refugees in need (European Commission, 2013). The European Union stood in front of the UN Human Rights Council, Security Council, and the Arab League to advocate for help in creating a more democratic environment in Syria. The European Union supplies the Syrian refugees with food and medication through NGOs and provides psychosocial support, which is greatly needed in a crisis. The European Union funds many UN agencies and allows their work to dominate within the crisis as these agencies are more equipped to handle refugees. The European Union advocates for peace and justice in Syria and funds the host countries that continuously take refugees. (Turkmani, 2016). The European Union thus does all it can to ensure that the refugees in Syria are safe, but they take a more political long game approach rather than an instantaneous approach. An example of a UN agency that deals with funding from the European Union are the UNHCR.

  1. UNHCR

The UNHCR encountered a big problem at the beginning of the crisis as they did not expect an extinction-level event such as that one to unfold so quickly. The work of the UNHCR is to manage refugees by giving them necessities like food, clothing and shelter and eventually placing them in safe spaces. There was thus a need to develop a regional refugee resilience plan to understand how to accommodate and support all refugees in Syria that needed asylum. This is done by establishing a refugee coordination model, which is used in case of emergencies (UNHCR, 2006 pg 1). The organization heavily relies on NGOs to help them reach where they cannot. Medical aid is provided mainly by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (UNHCR, 2013 Pg 169). SARC also protects the refugees as they are one of the only NGOs with the mandate in Syria. With the health of the refugees managed, there thus must be a way to manage food and clothing and an asylum for the refugees. UNHCR thus teamed up with NGOs inside Syria to get better help from external actors. Syria INGO Regional Forum advocates for the action of UN agencies within Syria hence act as one of the NGOs that aid the UNHCR in making sure that the refugees are safe. The Syria INGO Regional Forum includes about 73 NGOs with different roles to try and water down the Syrian crisis and bring people to safety (Humanity & Inclusion, 2020). With help from the Syria INGO Regional Forum, the UNHCR has managed to transport reserves in food, clothing, and medication from donor countries like Lebanon and Turkey into Syria. In addition, the UNHCR deals with the World food programmed to provide food to all the refugees (United Nations, 2021). WFP also provides funding for the transport of food and feeding programs within the refugee camps.


UNICEF deals with the wellbeing of the children in Syria as it has become increasingly evident that most refugee children are survivors who have lost contact with their families. There is thus an emergent need to take care of the children displaced by the civil war in every way possible. UNICEF deals with children by providing them with safety from the war and basic needs to survive. There has been a need for funding as with the emergence of the COVID19 pandemic, UNICEF has been severely underfunded in ensuring all the needs of the children from the Syrian crisis are met (UNICEF, 2021b). there is an increasing number of children that need support; however, the amount of funds leaves UNICEF severely underhanded. UNICEF deals with children with disabilities, and the number coming from Syria due to injuries sustained from the war is immensely high. UNICEF has tried to provide homes for the children they can and those they can not accommodate; they have tried to issue aid in terms of medical, psychological, and physical support regarding food and supplies. UNICEF hopes to protect the children from inside and out by ensuring that all the children within their reach are provided enough food, water, and sanitation equipment to keep them alive (UNICEF, 2018). UNICEF mainly advocates for children as they are the vulnerable part of society as the rest of the NGOs focus on the other issues

  1. Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without borders provide all-rounded medical care. They assist mainly in the Northwest areas as they have no Jurisdiction in other sectors of the country due to a lack of government grant (MSF, 2021). Doctors without borders are to provide medical assistance to the refugees both inside and outside Syria. The doctors without borders also provide medical supplies to the other NGOs to better disseminate to all available refugees centres. The work of doctors without borders is limited due to a few challenges of humanitarianism in Syria. The organization, however, keeps on trying to get into the country and provide aid to as many refugees as they can reach

  1. International Refugee Law

The international refugee law is a group of safeguards that protects refugees. These safeguards include restriction of return to home country in persecution and right to seek asylum (PHAP, 2016). In addition, the international refugee law allows international organizations to help refugees and place them in countries where they may be able to start new lives. However, international refugee law has challenges from the end of where the refugees are originating from to the area where they are to find placement. However, the refugee laws do not apply to asylum seekers as they do not fully conform to the ideology of refugee status (Lock, 2020). Asylum seekers thus lose out on the benefits of refugee law but benefit from the laws that deal with asylum-seeking.

The international refugee law grants permission to the right to freedom from torture or degrading treatment in any country. The premise of this is to treat refugees as any other humans and alleviate the suffering they endured in their countries of origin. In addition, refugees also have t the right to freedom of opinion and expression of thought, conscience, and religion. The religious aspect is essential as it has been seen that there is a lot of discrimination against Syrian refugees regarding religion and fear of extremism.


  1. Challenges of International Refugee Law

One of the most significant challenges faced by humanitarian action in refugee law is the mandate to operate on Syrian soil. The doctors without borders, for example, play a significant role in providing medical supplies to the region, but their mandate has been restricted to only one part of Syria (MSF, 2021).  International organizations have been restricted access into the country as the fighting regimes of the government see any form of foreign aid as the enemy rather than allies. Restrictions mean that the action groups can not initialize and ensure refugee laws are followed. Due to the sanctions on entry, there is a significant shortage of supplies within Syria. There has been an evident lack of medical supplies needed to treat the refugees displaced within Syria (UNHCR, 2013 pg 171). In addition, there have been attacks in the humanitarian camps by the local extremists to exterminate the threat of foreign aid. Hospitals have been attacked through bombings and airstrikes, leaving the doctors without borers no choice but to retreat (MSF, 2021). A report by UNHCR claimed that the staff had been reportedly attacked and killed many times while issuing supplies to those in need during raids. There is limited access to the areas in Syria; hence the international organizations cannot protect all their staff. The operation of some NGOs has thus been unsanctioned, posing more of a danger to the staff of the humanitarian organizations.

Lastly, international refugee law states that refugees can not be taken back to their country if they are in imminent danger. This comes as a challenge as most countries that host refugees are at capacity, and the law states that they may not be able to take them back to where they are from. This creates a dilemma in trying to help the Syrian refugees but facing the challenge of being overwhelmed with people and too few resources to sustain the growing population. There is no obligation to accept any refugees that seek asylum, yet when you do make the reception, there is no taking them back to where they are from (Lock, 2020). The dilemma creates a resounding effect as the humanitarian agencies can barely support the growing populations, and the bilateral organizations may not be able to turn away any refugees that already accepted


Humanitarian organizations play a big part in alleviating suffering with refugees., their work is to take care of refugees by giving a consistent supply of food, water, medical supplies, and support in a social, economic, and psychological aspect. Humanitarian organizations follow the international refugee law and are bound to provide the basic needs stated to ensure the refugees are taken care of. The Syrian war created a refugee crisis with the influx of refugees with nowhere to go. International humanitarian organizations such as EU, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFO and Doctors Without Borders have tried their hardest to provide support to the best of their capacity. There, however, have been two main challenges to the exercise of international law; lack of mandate to operate in Syria and lack of space to place the asylum seekers. However, the humanitarian organizations have been seen to improve a state that would have otherwise been catastrophic. Thus, international humanitarian organizations play a big part in ensuring the safety and amnesty of refugees.





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