Humanitarian Access

Humanitarian access is an important means to achieving DRC’s mandate – to provide protection and to promote durable solutions to refugee and displacement problems based on humanitarian principles and human rights – including in emergency settings.

DRC defines humanitarian access as the ability of crisis-affected people to obtain impartial assistance and protection in a manner that is consistent with humanitarian principles. This encompasses:

  1. DRC/DDG’s ability to access affected populations to provide quality assistance
  2. People’s ability to access DRC/DDG services, and
  3. People’s ability to access assistance and protection provided by other actors.

In settings where access is constrained, the types of resources that DRC can deliver will be shaped or influenced by those constraints. This means that it is important to understand how key factors and stakeholders influence access.

While humanitarian access is essential to effective humanitarian action, it is is not in and of itself an end goal. Principled humanitarian access is even more difficult to achieve in acute emergency settings, especially when time is a critical factor in saving lives. Gaining and sustaining access often involves moral and operational challenges. These need to be carefully considered, even in acute and rapid onset emergency settings.

DRC’s guidelines and operational principles for humanitarian access provide a strategic approach to understand and evaluating humanitarian access dimensions of DRC programmes and operations; clearly articulated positions on key issues related to humanitarian access; and practical tools to support developing an access strategy.  The guidelines include;

  • Practical explanations on humanitarian principles and international law as they relate to humanitarian access;
  • Guidelines related to duty bearers, needs-based assistance, risk and duty of care, humanitarian negotiations, ‘red lines’ and humanitarian coordination;
  • Explanation of various operational modalities and practical approaches that can be applied to different contexts; and
  • A workflow and practical tools for identifying access issues and stakeholders and developing an appropriate response to access challenges.

You can find these guidelines here.

External Links


Name:                Mirno Robert Pasquali
Position:           Global Access Specialist
Email:               [email protected]