ICRC survey: Our world. Views from the field.
As part of the Our world. Your move. campaign, the ICRC commissioned a global research study especially designed to capture the experiences and opinions of civilians who are living with the everyday reality of armed conflict.
A Summary Report presenting highlights from both the opinion survey and in-depth research is now available:
A hard copy of the summary report with a multimedia CD-ROM containing all of the results from the eight countries covered can be ordered from ICRC's online catalogue.
containing consolidated results of opinion survey and in-depth research
ICRC survey shows disturbing impact of hostilities on civilians, news release
Civilians bear brunt of the changing nature of hostilities, Interview with the ICRC director of operations
The Geneva Conventions at 60: learning from the past to better face the future, news release featuring the results of research on behaviour during armed conflict
ICRC poll shows rules of armed conflict enjoy broad support but are considered to have limited impact, interview with the ICRC's deputy director of communication
"Speak for us!", article featuring the qualitative work conducted in Colombia
The study results provide clear insight into how people experience armed conflict and the long-term impact that it has on their lives. It also uncovers some valuable findings for the ICRC in conducting its humanitarian work.
" What's new about this research is that it gives us a more comprehensive overview of how the victims of armed conflict and violence are affected across the board. These figures represent millions of people who are struggling to provide for their children, who have been forced to flee their villages under threat, or who live in constant fear that someone they care for will be killed, assaulted or disappear. The research is a step towards acknowledging our accountability towards the people that we are there to serve " .
Pierre Krähenbühl, the ICRC's director of operations
The questions covered people’s personal experience of armed conflict and violence, the specific impact that it has on them, views on the acceptable conduct of combatants, the effectiveness and desired actions of related organizations and third parties, awareness of the Geneva Conventions, and the role of health workers during armed conflict.
The results give a powerful insight into the experiences and opinions of civilians coping with some of the most harrowing situations in the world. It allows the ICRC to understand the deeper values, motivations, fears and aspirations of those who have been direct victims of armed conflict or violence. The qualitative research was carried out through focus groups and one-on-one in-depth interviews carried out by ICRC staff. The individuals interviewed include internally displaced people, members of separated families, first responders (first aid workers) and others directly affected by armed conflict or violence.
" By talking to a wide range of people, and really listening to what they have to say, we're able to see the situation through their eyes. This will greatly enhance and inform our approach towards helping them and others in need. "
Charlotte Lindsey, the ICRC's deputy director of communication
A few excerpts from the reports that illustrate some of the key issues:
Of all the people who have experience of armed conflict, 56% have been displaced. In certain contexts, this number is higher such as in Afghanistan, where 76% have been displaced, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 58%, in Lebanon 61% and in Liberia, almost nine in ten (90%) of those interviewed responded that they had to flee their home.
" All I wanted was to be able to cultivate my piece of land and live off its harvest. Today I am labelled'displaced.'It is a stigma and a continuous humiliation. "
Jorge, 34, internally displaced person, Colombia
" We had to flee the house. It was too dangerous to stay. I took nothing with me, just one plastic bag and that was it. People were running – it reminded me of images I had seen in war movies . "
Baia, 37, displaced in Georgia
" Our things are always packed. We don’t unpack them so that we can leave at a moment’s notice whenever they attack us again. "
Joséfina, 29, displaced in the Philippines
Greatest fears during armed conflict
Faced with so many threats, what do people fear the most in armed conflicts? Three top issues emerge:
losing a loved one, mentioned by an average of 38% of those surveyed;
economic hardship, 31%; and
displacement / becoming a refugee, 24%.
Health workers should be protected
People oppose attacks on health workers and ambulances. Most people say that attacks on health workers (89%) and ambulances (87%) are never acceptable. Virtually everyone (98% and over) holds this view in the Philippines, Lebanon and Colombia. However, in Afghanistan, 27% say there are sometimes reasons to attack health workers and 32% believe there are sometimes reasons to attack ambulances.
To minimize the risk of attack, respondents say that health workers and ambulances must:
remain neutral – not take sides;
clearly identify their role.
Health care for all during armed conflict
Support f or health care in armed conflict is almost universal. The question of whom health workers and ambulances should help is generally less of an issue for respondents. There is general consensus across the eight countries that health workers must be protected even when they are treating wounded or sick enemy combatants, and especially when treating enemy civilians.
Virtually everyone (96%) accepts the principle that all wounded or sick during an armed conflict should have the right to health care. The principle is strongly endorsed in all countries (from 96% in Lebanon to 71% in Afghanistan). Similarly, most people (89%) want health workers to treat the wounded from all sides in armed conflicts. The level of support for this principle ranges from 96% in Colombia to 84% in Afghanistan.
“…they were taking care of the wounded, and the vulnerable who are sick and need help. So if you harm them, you will also be harming the entire population, so it is important to protect these people”
Decland, first responder (first aid worker), Liberia
“Medical staff should be available to help and it is essential to respect them because they save lives. I was saved by them.”
Fernando, 35, mine victim, Colombia
" The findings reveal broad support for the core ideas behind the Geneva Conventions, and IHL as a whole, by people who have actually lived in conflict- and violence-affected countries. I find it very encouraging that despite having faced the horrors of fighting, people tend to agree that certain types of behaviour are unacceptable, such as killing civilians, kidnapping, torture, attacks on religious monuments, looting and sexual violence. We view this as a strong indicator that people in war-affected co untries want to see better respect for and implementation of the law. So does the ICRC. "
Philip Spoerri, the ICRC's director for international law
* Ipsos is one of the world’s largest opinion research groups, with front-line operations in over 60 countries worldwide, and access via research partners to areas where they do not have their own offices. More information at www.ipsos.com