International Conference on Social Protection in Contexts of Fragility and Forced Displacement

Displaced people during hurricane Matthew


UNICEF supported the Haitian Government for participation in the International Conference on Social Protection in Contexts of Fragility and Forced Displacement (Brussels, 28-29 September 2017).

UNICEF and the European Commission (ECHO / DEVCO), together with key partners (FAO, WFP, WB, Governments, including DFID, Finland, Germany) are organizing this Conference to guide the prospects for using social protection systems in these contexts.

The Conference will focus on improving the living conditions, livelihoods and social inclusion of affected populations, including children, refugees, internally displaced populations, who are often highly vulnerable and are not benefiting fundamental human rights.

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew severely worsened the pre-existing humanitarian situation in Haiti, affecting more than 2 million people, with 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Despite the immediate response, humanitarian needs persist: more than 2.35 million people are facing severe acute food insecurity; 31 camps continue to host 46,691 internally displaced people due to the 2010 earthquake; and 6,941 cases of cholera are identified.

The humanitarian challenges of prolonged fragility due to natural disasters and poverty-related social crises in all its dimensions underscore the need to bridge the gap between humanitarian action and development. This is essential to the realization of the human rights and well-being of all children and families in Haiti.

Towards social protection services

The Government of Haiti continues to make efforts to establish social protection mechanisms. Nevertheless, existing interventions remain fragmented and poorly hedged, and the relevance and feasibility of a coherent and comprehensive social protection system depends strongly on a strong institutional anchor. To this end, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST) is currently leading a process for the development of a National Social Protection Policy.

Displaced people

Social protection initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and inequality. They can reduce the risk of social unrest, and consequently ensure greater social peace.

Combining social and economic impacts also contributes to building resilience: building the capacity of poor households to better cope, respond and resist crises.

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 1) stipulates that the international community is committed to expanding coverage of social protection measures for all and ensuring substantial coverage of the poor and vulnerable by 2030. This extension should include social protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement in order to avoid exclusion.

Similarly, development actors recognize the importance of Social Protection at the 2016 World Health Summit (WHS) and commit to “increasing social protection programs and strengthening national and local systems and adaptation in order to enhance resilience in fragile contexts.”

Although the establishment of effective social protection in the context of protracted fragility and displaced populations is more complex, experience suggests that social protection plays an important role both in the humanitarian dimension and in development – particularly in times of critical transition.

This post is also available in: French