Humanitarian corridors have recently been established in Ukraine to allow individuals to seek refuge in neighbouring countries for their protection. During an armed conflict, humanitarian corridors are established by declaring a temporary ceasefire. This topic is significant for numerous government examinations as part of current events, and it is covered in GS Paper II- International Relations of the UPSC IAS Exam. This page goes into detail about what they are, when they are put up, and what the concerns are for setting them up.
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What are Humanitarian Corridors?
Humanitarian corridors are demilitarised zones established primarily to offer aid to people during times of armed conflict. They are created in a given region and for a specific period of time as a result of mutual agreement between both parties of an armed conflict. Humanitarian corridors are one of several possible forms of a temporary pause in armed combat, according to the United Nations (UN).
What is the Need to set up Humanitarian Corridors?
In situations where international law of war is being violated, such as large-scale bombardment of civilian targets, humanitarian corridors can give critical relief. During a battle, people are mostly cut off from crucial food, electricity, and water supplies. So these corridors are needed to:
- Deliver food, medical aid, and other necessities to the besieged cities.
- To evacuate the civilians through these passageways.
Who Set up Humanitarian Corridors?
In the majority of warfare scenarios, the United Nations negotiates humanitarian corridors. They are sometimes set up by local groups as well. The corridors, however, must be agreed upon by all parties involved in the battle. Because there is a passage available from both sides, there is a risk that it may be used for military or political purposes. For example, the passages can be used to smuggle weapons and fuel into besieged communities.
The topic can be asked as a Current Affairs Question in IAS Prelims. Visit the attached link to attempt practice quizzes on current affairs.
Who has Access to Humanitarian Corridors?
- Both the sides to the war decide who has access to humanitarian corridors.
- In general it is the neutral players such as the United Nations or relief organisations such as the Red Cross which would be granted access.
- They can also be used by UN observers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and journalists to get access to disputed areas where war crimes are being committed.
- They also decide how much time, how much space, and which modes of transportation — trucks, buses, or aircraft — are permitted to enter the corridor.
- In rare circumstances, humanitarian corridors are solely established by one of the conflicting parties. This occurred during the American airlift during the Soviet Union’s blockade of Berlin in 1948-1949.
Read in details about NGOs in the linked article.
Also, read about the Unification of Germany here.
Where have Humanitarian Corridors been set up so far?
Humanitarian corridors have been established for a very long time now. It started in the mid-twentieth century.
- During Kindertransport from 1938 to 1939, Jewish children were evacuated from Nazi-controlled territories to the United Kingdom.
- Humanitarian corridors were also established during the siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1992-1995.
- 2018 evacuation of Ghouta, Syria.
- Recently, humanitarian corridors were announced in Mariupol and Volnovakha of Ukraine in 2022, to evacuate civilians.
However, requests for civilian routes or a cease-fire have gone unmet in numerous wars and conflicts. The UN, for example, has yet to achieve an accord in the present situation in Yemen.
Read in detail about the Syrian Civil War here.
What are the Concerns and Misuse of Humanitarian Corridors?
- The major concern about setting up humanitarian corridors is that it is difficult to implement since they must be established by all parties. Demands for civilian routes or a cease-fire have fallen on deaf ears in many wars and conflicts e.g. the recent Yemen Crisis.
- The establishment of these humanitarian corridors may also be abused. There is a chance of military or political mistreatment. For example, the passages can be used to smuggle weapons and fuel into besieged communities.
Humanitarian Corridors – Related International Conventions
- “Relief Corridors” are mentioned in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its 1977 Additional Protocols.
- The United Nations General Assembly established humanitarian corridors in 1990 with Resolution 45/100. According to the report, “relief corridors” are recognised as a crucial instrument by the international community to promote civilians’ right to seek assistance during armed conflicts.
- In 1992, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo, Italy, defined the concept more clearly. “In this case, humanitarian supplies can pass through so-called humanitarian corridors, which must be recognised and protected by competent authorities and, if necessary, under the authority of the UN.”
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