IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations: Open Dialogue for More Effective Crisis Response Partnerships

“IOM GBV response staff and local NGO Integrated Community Peace and Development Organization carry out a women’s empowerment and leadership training in Kapoeta, South Sudan.“

Geneva – Strong partnerships are essential for the delivery of effective, principled humanitarian assistance at a time when an unprecedented 131.7 million people are affected by crises in new and increasingly complex circumstances.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) responds to crises alongside hundreds of NGOs and other partners contributing unique perspectives and expertise to all phases and dimensions of a response. Recognizing that humanitarian responses alone are insufficient, there is a new call for improved collaboration across the humanitarian-development nexus to reduce risk, need and vulnerability.

IOM annually convenes IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations where the Organization and NGO partners discuss shared values, unity of purpose, and their respective strengths and limitations to ensure these collaborations effectively protect and assist affected populations.

The 2018 Consultation brought together 90 participants including representatives of 39 NGOs in 20 countries, to discuss internal displacement, especially in protracted crises. Topics included the humanitarian-development-peace nexus,humanitarian protection, and transitional justice.

“IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations are very important for us as a local organization, to sit with international partners and discuss best practices and lessons learned on responding and dealing with internal displacement,” said Maddi Hart, representing Amel Association Lebanon at the event.

Twenty years after the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement were launched, internally displaced persons (IDPs) still represent the single largest displaced group.

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights of IDPs, publicly presented for the first time her report on internal displacement and transitional justice, which highlighted the importance of the participation of IDPs in those initiatives.

Widespread consensus on the need to break down silos was evident in discussions on humanitarian protection and on the triple nexus, and several innovative solutions were identified.

For example, in some countries internal displacement has been integrated into UN Development Assistance Frameworks to better link humanitarian and development efforts. Whether on the nexus or on complementary approaches to humanitarian protection, the solutions should be “bottom-up”, with initiatives in the field leading the way. Participants heard concrete examples of innovative, field-driven responses that foster more accountability to affected populations and enhanced community ownership.

In the Ukraine, the Zhytomyr Community Fund has IDPs on its board and is planning to convene a club later this month where IDPs and local residents can gather to identify and propose solutions to problems they face.

Meanwhile, in areas of South Sudan where conventional assistance is scarce, a local NGO, South Sudan’s Older People’s Organization, organizes community support to the elderly in the form of shelter repairs and other services. IOM’s Rapid Response Fund (RRF), which disperses funds to local NGO partners while investing in their technical and organizational capacity, is supporting the SSOPO.

In northeast Nigeria, where IDPs speak up to forty different languages, Translators Without Borders (TWB) helps navigate the complex linguistic landscape by providing support with terminology and translation to the whole mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) sector, in partnership with IOM.

“At this Consultation we have been able to zoom in, thanks to the very concrete field expertise”, said Ignacio Packer, Executive Director of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).

“Undoubtedly, much work lies ahead of us,” IOM Deputy Director General Ambassador Laura Thompson said in her closing address. “We need to better understand what exactly the role of each actor should be, what exactly is the value added, how we define partnership in these contexts, and how we can maximize impacts for displaced populations, so that durable solutions can be found, and risk and vulnerability can be lowered to prevent future displacement.”

IOM-NGO Humanitarian Consultations have been jointly organized by IOM and the ICVA since 2015, alternating biennially between Geneva and regional hubs, in order to bring the conversation closer to field realities and allow for greater inclusion of local and national NGOs.

Read more about the 2018 Consultation here.

For more information, please contact the Humanitarian Policy Team at