ViCE – what do we talk about?
The ViCE Initiative started in 2014 with the scope of looking into volunteering in conflicts and emergencies. The focus is on neutral independent humanitarian action by local volunteers in the Red Cross Red Crescent.
“Conflicts and emergencies” intend to capture and describe the complexity and challenges these local volunteers face in their daily life. “Fragile humanitarian environments” and “complex humanitarian environments” can also be used to describe the context. With the ViCE Initiative we are trying to understand, explain and support volunteering that takes place in these environments
As many as 17 million people volunteer each year across 190 countries in the Red Cross Red Crescent. A reality for 1 million of these Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers is that they operate in countries where there are situations of conflict.
Research and policy debate on volunteering has failed to engage with the experiences of local volunteers in conflict and crises. We have little understanding of the complex motivations and needs of such volunteers, nor how they can be supported.
Volunteers face unique challenges, and have motivations and experiences that need to be brought into debates around the meanings of volunteering, about who volunteers and how, and in what ways they can be better supported. There is an urgent need to better understand and support the activities of local volunteers in conflict and crisis settings.
There is a need for
- research on their roles and experiences,
- local and global advocacy,
- increasing recognition of their work, and
- mobilising resources to ensure their safety, security and well-being during and after their time volunteering.
The Global Review on Volunteering conclude that the humanitarian need is likely to continue to outstrip the global capacity (or will) to fund the required response. Investing in volunteering is one of the most pragmatic ways, or sometimes only available option, for responding to this need. Greater research and dissemination is needed to ensure that global actors understand and provide appropriate support for local volunteers.