Logistics Cluster Global Meeting Dubai: All Access

11 June 2019

Dubai was the location for the most recent Logistics Cluster Global Meeting, hosted by International Humanitarian City (IHC) from 9 to 11 April. A total of 41 participants representing 32 organisations gathered in the desert city for three days of discussions and networking. This edition of the meeting focused on access and how it impacts humanitarian logistics operations.


“Access constraints are a main challenge for all humanitarian actors wherever humanitarians operate – be it through challenges with security that impede the ability for relief items to be transported, or through administrative or physical limitations trying to bring relief items or humanitarian workers into an affected area. Based on feedback from partners, we thought it was important to have a discussion about this topic in the forum of a Global Meeting to share challenges, initiatives and best practices.”

– Bruno Vandemeulebroecke, Deputy Global Logistics Cluster Coordinator


The theme was addressed across three sessions over the three days, each focusing on a particular element of humanitarian access – physical, security and administrative access.


John Leeves of Tonkin and Taylor delivered the first of the theme sessions with a presentation on rapid disaster infrastructure mapping using remote sensing techniques. John highlighted how in the initial stages of an emergency, access to facts and updated physical access information is critical.  He showed how using a variety of mapping techniques through access to aerial and satellite imagery and geological survey data, Tonkin and Taylor can provide support to governments and National Disaster Management Authorities (NDMAs) to provide rapid mapping of damaged infrastructure following natural disasters and areas at high risk of landslides.


Administrative access was the next element addressed. Lucy Styles of WFP opened the panel discussion by providing examples of administrative challenges faced in recent humanitarian responses in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and Sulawesi, Indonesia.


‘‘Administrative procedures such as lengthy customs and relief importation processes for responding humanitarian organisations can pose a significant challenge to the effective and efficient delivery of humanitarian aid in emergency contexts. Sharing challenges faced, ideas and initiatives is key for meeting attendees and a critical part of this humanitarian logistics forum."

- Lucy Styles, WFP Logistics


Isabelle Granger from IFRC then introduced participants to the IFRC Disaster Law Programme and the work being done to advocate for humanitarian access during times of emergency, discussing the increasing regulation such as that seen during the Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami response. Participants discussed the complexities they face in terms of the need for registration versus trying to create a global presence with the capacity to operate in as many countries as possible. Virginie Bohl of OCHA then addressed customs issues, a common challenge faced by responding organisations during relief operations, and advised that work is being done to look at what methods can be incorporated from the private sector into the humanitarian space.


The final pillar of the access theme – security – began with the Logistics Cluster’s Yemen Coordinator, Christophe Morard, providing participants with an overview of security access challenges faced by the Logistics Cluster and its partners responding in Yemen. Sophie Barbey from ICRC presented on International Humanitarian Law, its implications and the difficulties in its implementation in conflict settings, while Melody Knight of the Norwegian Refugee Council shared lessons learned from the organisation’s vast experience in access negotiations, highlighting a need for understanding of local context as well as capacity building in this field.


Feedback received from the meeting showed the topic was well received, with participants enjoying the opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail, and planning is now underway for the next Global Meeting to be held in Dublin, Ireland from 24 to 26 September 2019. Many thanks to the meeting attendees for their engagement, and to International Humanitarian City for hosting.


For a full recap of this latest global meeting, read the GLM Dubai 2019 Note for the Record (NFR) here.