Humanitarian Corridors

  • IASbaba
  • March 7, 2022
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-2: International Relations
  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries 

Humanitarian Corridors

What are humanitarian corridors?

  • 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 these for?

  • Via these corridors, either food and medical aid can be brought to areas of conflict, or civilians can be evacuated.
  • 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 — for example through large-scale bombing of civilian targets — 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. 
  • Since all sides need to agree to set up the corridors, there is a risk of military or political abuse. For example, the corridors can be used to smuggle weapons and fuel into besieged cities.
  • On the other hand, they can also be used by UN observers, NGOs and journalists to gain access to contested areas where war crimes are being committed.

What corridors have been established in Ukraine?

  • In eastern Ukraine, a five-hour cease-fire was to be in place on March 5, to allow around 200,000 to leave Mariupol and Volnovakha.
  • But the initiative failed after a few hours where the administration said the evacuation had been “postponed for security reasons” because Russian troops continued to bomb the surroundings.
  • Russia however said the corridors set up near Mariupol and Volnovakha had not been used. 
  • Ukraine said that Russia had not fulfilled the promise of a corridor and that 19 vehicles with humanitarian aid had not been allowed through.

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.

Where else have they been used?

  • Humanitarian corridors have been put in place since the mid-20th century. For example, during the so-called Kindertransport from 1938 to 1939, Jewish children were evacuated to the United Kingdom from areas under Nazi control.
  • Humanitarian corridors were also created during the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia and the 2018 evacuation of Ghouta, Syria.
  • However, there are many wars and conflicts where calls for civilian corridors or a pause in fighting have been made in vain. In the ongoing war in Yemen, for instance, the UN has so far failed in its negotiations.

Connecting the dots:

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