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What are humanitarian corridors?

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 08, Mar 2022
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They are demilitarized zones, in a specific area and for a specific time — and both sides of an armed conflict agree to them.

  • The United Nations considers humanitarian corridors to be one of several possible forms of a temporary pause of armed conflict.

What are they used for?

Via these corridors, either food and medical aid can be brought to areas of conflict, or civilians can be evacuated.

Need for and significance of these corridors:

  • The corridors are necessary when cities are under siege and the population is cut off from basic food supplies, electricity and water.
  • In cases where a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds because the international law of war is being violated, humanitarian corridors can provide crucial relief.

Who sets them up?

In most cases, humanitarian corridors are negotiated by the United Nations. Sometimes they’re also set up by local groups.

Concerns over misuse:

They can be used by UN observers, NGOs and journalists to gain access to contested areas where war crimes are being committed.

  • However, there is a risk of military or political abuse. For example, the corridors can be used to smuggle weapons and fuel into besieged cities.

Who gets access?

Access to humanitarian corridors is determined by the parties to the conflict. It’s usually limited to neutral actors, the UN or aid organizations such as the Red Cross.

  • They also determine the length of time, the area and which means of transport — trucks, buses or planes — are allowed to use the corridor.
  • In rare cases, humanitarian corridors are only organized by one of the parties to the conflict. This happened with the American airlift after the Berlin blockade by the Soviet Union in 1948-1949.