Considerations for Planning Mass Evacuations of Civilians in Conflict Settings

Published 13. Feb 2017
Evacuations are one of the most delicate operations in a crisis environment. This guidance offers suggestions and considerations to help humanitarians, including NRC staff, to make decisions, ensure adequate planning and minimise risks to the affected population.

In both times of peace and times of conflict, states are first and foremost responsible for protecting civilians. However, when a state or authority is unable or unwilling to protect civilians, the humanitarian imperative compels humanitarian organisations to provide assistance wherever it is needed. In some extreme situations, humanitarians may determine that it is necessary to relocate civilians to an area of greater safety.

While an evacuation can provide an immediate, lifesaving intervention in the face of an imminent threat, humanitarians are too often ill prepared, underequipped and inadequately supported for the daunting task and significant risks of evacuating civilians from an endangered area. This guidance seeks to support reflection around common dilemmas faced in cases where humanitarian evacuations are being considered.