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Highlights from IDHA 56 in Amman, Jordan.

By: Ryan Heffron

The 56th International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) came to a close in Amman, Jordan in December. Nineteen students from around the world attended the four-week intensive course. After the graduation ceremonies wrapped up and the students flew home, Course Director Anthony Land said of the students, “They were simply an absolutely excellent group to work with.”

One of the key events of IDHA 56 was the field trip to the Baqa’a refugee camp (البقعة). Initially built as an emergency response in 1968, the camp has been home to five generations of Palestinians living in Jordan. Land reflects, “I have experience of refugee camps for over 40 years and have never seen anything like Beqa’a before… the camp has a sense of permanence that I have not seen anywhere else and enjoys a better standard of education, health, and civic structure.”

The 30,000 professional staff who run the camp are mostly refugees themselves. Large families depend on the salaries provided by the The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Every year, the livelihoods of Baqa’a’s families hang in the balance of budget decisions in the donors’ office. With their feet on the ground, students bore witness to the lived reality of a community dependent on humanitarian aid. Further, the power that refugees hold in their own lives was on full display.

Trips like this help students to experience first-hand the nuanced challenges and successes of humanitarian realities. Experiential learning is at the centre of the IDHA model. As we move around the world, further field trips will take place and more insights will arise.

One notable lecturer in the IDHA classroom was Dominik Bartsch, the UNHCR Representative in Jordan. He broke down the situation of refugees in Jordan and engaged with the classroom even after his lecture ended. The final lecturer of the course was Samar Muhareb. Mr. Muhareb is the Chief Executive Director (and founder) of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development. Mr. Muhareb presented on the localization movement in the humanitarian sector.

The IDHA graduation speaker was His Excellency Peter Hof, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to the Republic of Yemen. HE Hof was awarded the IDHA Honoris Causa for his services and support for the humanitarian response in Yemen. After His Excellency’s speech, the class came together for a graduation dinner. As someone played the guitar, students and instructors ate, laughed and sang with one another. IDHA 56 not only gave its students certificates of completion, but also friendships that will last a lifetime.



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