Conflict and protection

Human rights are particularly vulnerable to abuse during conflicts – and women and girls tend to suffer the most.

Violent conflict and poverty are inextricably linked.  Whilst the triggers for conflict are many and varied, unequal  power relationships are always the root cause.  And once the fighting has started, poor people are left more vulnerable than ever to the effects of war.

It is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict

Major-General Patrick Cammaert, former UN peacekeeping commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo

ActionAid works with communities affected by conflict, providing food, shelter, livelihoods opportunities, emotional support and protection.  In the long term we support people to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and to play an active role in securing lasting peace.

We recognise that women are particularly vulnerable during conflicts.  Their basic social, economic and political rights are violated and they may be subject to sexual and gender-based violence.  Young people, too, often suffer more than others during war – they may be forced into combat and often lose their loved ones, homes and education.   

Our community based protection approach recognises and builds upon the protection strategies and responses that already exist within communities.  We also recognise that communities can directly or indirectly cause protection problems which in many cases had existed prior to the conflict and are exacerbated by it.  Community based protection is vital in helping people maintain a sense of dignity and security when chaos is unfolding around them. 

What is ActionAid doing?

  • Supporting women who have suffered rights abuses in conflict and post-conflict societies to secure justice through traditional and formal justice systems  Read about our Access to Justice for Women project
  • Supporting communities affected by long term chronic conflict – such as in the DRC – to rebuild their lives and earn a sustainable living
  • Engaging young adults in the processes of building peace and shaping their country’s future
  • Providing specialist support to help those caught up in conflict to recover their emotional wellbeing
  • Working to understand how our programmes can be “conflict sensitive” – recognising that our work impacts the dynamics of conflicts and ensuring our programmes with conflict-affected communities actively promote peaceful solutions
  • Promoting women’s participation in peace-building efforts, in recognition of the important role they can play
  • Lobbying for governments to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of people affected by conflict in line with international and legal standards

Download our Community-based Protection Manual

  • Before, a woman was presumed wrong.  Not presumed innocent, but presumed wrong.

    Monfred Momoh Sesay, Acting Customary Law Officer for Sierra Leone.

    Access to Justice for Women - Insights from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somaliland

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