We started 2021 still in the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, due to our tenacious adaptations in the previous year, we were ready and prepared for any further challenges the pandemic would bring. Our students and lecturers alike had all adapted to the “new normal”, and online courses took place throughout the year. We learnt by doing, and each iteration of our course programme became stronger as the year progressed.
Tenacity was key to our research too. Though our ambitions to carry out research in Afghanistan had to be put on hold due to the political crisis in the country since August 2021, we intend to revisit the project as soon as possible. We are discussing with our partners how best to deliver a comprehensive healthcare package for the country.
COVID-19 also put the structure and system of the humanitarian sector in sharp focus. It made us reflect on whether the system is fit for purpose in the 21st-century humanitarian challenges. Through a range of webinars, we looked at how the sector needs to change and shed light on under-examined issues such as bias in humanitarian aid, lack of trust between international and local organisations, and the unfair distribution of aid to name a few of the issues debated through the lens of the pandemic.
Our research also expanded into other new areas, including migration and health, through a partnership with the Lancet known as The Lancet Migration European Hub. This initiative looks at how migration, asylum, and border policies are key determining factors in the health and well-being of refugees and migrants.
Our recently launched 2021-2025 strategy positions us well as we develop the Centre to ensure it keeps pace with the changing humanitarian landscape. We will continue to provide relevant, online and in-person training for humanitarian professionals by partnering with universities to increase the reach and accessibility of our courses, including partnerships with Aga Khan University. We will continue to conduct pertinent research on under-researched issues within the sector and offer a neutral space for debate on sensitive subjects.
We aim to fulfil three institutional commitments: breakdown barriers to learning opportunities for humanitarian professionals; ensure our training and research are multi-faceted and cover a wide range of perspectives, and adapt the Centre to humanitarian reality by continually analyzing new trends and under-researched issues in the sector.