In 2021, the number of ongoing conflicts ranges from 40 to 50, depending on whether they have been recognized as such by the international community. I emphasize that all types of conflicts are included in this count: intrastate, interstate or hybrid. If we approximate the number of states in the world to 200 (also here a speech of legitimate sovereignty intervenes), we can see that one in 5 states witnesses an armed conflict within its borders. Considering that other states participate, finance, and support different factions in these conflicts, the number of states interested in conflict situations sharply increases.
It must be highlighted that some particularly unstable regional areas are more prone to an escalation of violence. Taking for example the last 20 years in the Middle East, we realize how institutions and government bodies are unable to guarantee their primary functions, leaving room for non-state actors to impose their own vision (rebels, terrorists, lobbies...).
Since the goal of this study is to create a document that can help the hospitality sector to support the local population in conditions of war, a further premise should be made. Many of the conflicts we can witness today have been going on for many years, affecting the resilience and precarious conditions to which the communities of the states concerned are subjected. The prolongation of the conflict brings with it greater violence and hatred that often affects the most vulnerable categories: women, children and the elderly.
In addition, the goal is made even more difficult by the nature of some governments in specific geographic areas. In South America, Africa and the Middle East, democracy is just a word of façade and the protests to ask for more freedoms turn into repression. Many governments are made up of elites who control most of a country's resources and are totally disinterested in protecting the rights of their citizens, especially those of minorities.
In this delicate context, feelings of mistrust and resignation towards international organizations and mediation mechanisms constitute a further impediment to resolution. Furthermore, a large number of interests at stake and the different nature of the actors involved make the resolution process slower.
Despite these considerations, it is important to understand how and to what extent the hospitality sector can intervene in conflict situations, consequently we will proceed with listing the main needs of the civilian population in cases of war. In a second step, we will suggest good practices.
Different conflicts share the same features. Some of them are visible in the consequences on the civil population. Here we will indicate what, usually, are the main needs in a conflict situation:
- Access to basic necessities: conflict situations bring destruction and violence with them. Recent war tactics include targeting hospitals and food supply centres to undermine the opposing faction. This has direct consequences on the access to health and malnutrition of the civilian population.
- Lack of safe water: as in the previous point, the lack of water is another consequence of violence in conflicts. Sometimes, the inability to supply the local population is due to boycotts or naval / air blockades imposed by the international community or by involved actors.
- Displaced people: this is a major issue when it comes to conflicts. The bombings and the damage caused by the actions of the war force part of the population to flee from certain death. A direct consequence is the crowding of refugee camps, where people are obliged to live in desperate conditions.
- Need to rebuild: after years of bombing, the cities and towns affected need investments to rebuild buildings, hospitals, schools, workplaces, etc ...
- Inability to attend school: during conflict situations, going to school represents a too high a risk of death. Children do not have the means available to build their own future.
- Need to protect the most vulnerable categories: as previously stated, the brutality of conflicts translates into repeated abuse of the least protected categories. At the same time, the militarization of children forced separations and imprisonment, constitute unacceptable violations of human rights.
- Lack of sanitary equipment: states who witness from 3 to 10 years of conflict within their borders need a constant supply of humanitarian aid and specific sanitary equipment. As underlined before, hospitals are an easy target. In this context, also the commitment of local and regional NGOs is complicated by a situation of everyday military confrontation.
- Strengthen local population (long-term commitment): to reduce chances of other outbreaks of violence in the same region, it is crucial to propose long-term projects that include peace building programs to create inclusive societies. This effort should be accompanied by strengthening systems of justice.
- Give a different future: citizens are often obliged to join non-state actors (drug cartels, gangs, terrorists, etc.) due to the precarious living conditions and the absence of democracy in their country. Hiring local people would translate into discouraging illegal or military activities.
In order to tackle these needs, we have created a list of Good Practices in our Members Area that will help your property in setting possible actions for similar situations.
Do you want to check it out? Join our club!