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Logistics and SCM in the Context of Relief for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

*Update to previously circulated call: this issue will be published as an Open Access supplementary issue in the 2018 volume. This is funded by Emerald and there will be no charge to authors.*


When disaster strikes or conflict erupts, large numbers of people often have to move, or be moved out of disaster and conflict areas to safe zones (Gustavsson, 2003). Such displaced persons move to, or are moved to temporary internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, refugee camps, temporary transit centres, or tracing centres (Harrell-Bond, 2002; Black, 1998). While this often is the role of the United Nations (UN), governments,charities, and NGOs, other organisations are often asked to participate in providing succour (Thomas and Fritz, 2006; Thomas, 2003; Long and Wood, 1995). Europe has recently been in the news experiencing the mass movement of displaced persons from the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya (Hampshire, 2015; Weber, 2015). Canada received tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. However, Australia has for a longer time had to address boat loads of refugees fleeing conflicts in Sri-Lanka, Afghanistan, and Iraq using Indonesia as a transit hub. Early ‘refugee crises’ in Australia may be traced back to the so-called ‘boat people’, South-Vietnamese refugees fleeing Vietnam in rickety boats after the fall of Saigon in 1975 (Doherty, 2016).

Less media coverage has been given to the significant number of women, some with children, fleeing rampant gang violence in parts of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to seek refuge in the United States (United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 2015)(UNHCR). According to UNHCR’s Global Trends Forced Displacement Report, more than 66,000 children travelled with their families or travelled alone from these four central American countries to the United States in 2014 (UNHCR, 2015). In West Africa, internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria and other refugees are scattered across neighbouring West African countries. In Asia, there is continuing displacement of people in and from Myanmar but this seems also to have faded from media attention relative to the European ‘crisis’. Overall, over 65 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations in 2015 according to UNHCR ─ the highest displacement on record. From Europe to Australia through the Asia-Pacific region, the policy response to the ‘refugee’ crises has ranged from: mandatory detention of men, women and children in offshore migration detention centres in the Pacific Islands of Nauru, Manus and Papua New Guinea in the case of Australia (Essex, 2016; Fleay et al 2016; Huho and Napitupulu, 2016; Hyndman and Mountz, 2008), to the European response of building fences and barbed wires to stop refugees crossing borders in Austria, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and others (Weber, 2015; Hassner and Wittenberg, 2015; Sur, 2013).

However, globally there seems to have been an upwelling of solidarity, compassion, and a quest to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to those who are experiencing hardship and suffering as a result of forced migration. Logistics, Operations and Supply Chain Management is critical for providing effective humanitarian aid for refugees on the move, or in situ (Banomyong et al 2009). From the provision of food, water, sanitation and shelter to the provision of search and rescue and medical services, helpers need to get the right assistance to the right place at the right time at the right cost (Thomas, 2003). A common humanitarian logistics challenge for responding organisations is the movement of large numbers of relief staff to where refugees are located while ensuring their safety and shelter without distorting the local economies. Other challenges often include uncertainty as regards funding, and rapidly changing political and situational dynamics. Humanitarian agencies must also give an account to donors while addressing logistics components such as sourcing and procurement, transportation, warehousing, inventory management, trace and tracking, bidding and reverse bidding, reporting, accountability, politics, regulations, and legislation (Kovacs and Spens, 2007;Altay and Green, 2006; Oloruntoba and Gray, 2006).

Objectives of this special issue

Practice-led research and research led practice in humanitarian logistics and supply chain management is emerging, and the objective of this special issue is to publish original, rigorous research that increases the depth of our understanding of logistics activities and operations aimed at meeting the personal and basic needs of refugees and IDPs anywhere in the world on any relevant topic. We welcome a broad range of research approaches, political, legal, legislation,theoretical, conceptual or empirical. We also welcome a broad range of disciplinary perspectives and methods. Case studies, ethnographies, interviews, surveys as well as quantitative approaches are welcome. We have particular interest in papers that focus on the logistical processes of catering to the needs of the individual displaced person in categories such as:

  • Warehousing/depots, and associated locational decision-making.
  • Stock management and track and trace
  • The logistics of evacuation
  • Needs assessment and associated logistics such as procurement
  • Ethics in the distribution of relief and distribution planning
  • Performance measurement of refugee relief , resettlement and integration services
  • GIS mapping and other refugee mapping and information systems
  • The logistics of relief for the special needs of the disabled, women and children and other vulnerable refugee groups
  • Logistical aspects of camp planning, design and management
  • Healthcare and medical care
  • Human settlement planning for displaced populations
  • Refugee shelters and technical and logistical factors that needs to be considered in setting up shelters as well as shelter sustainability and cost effective shelter designs that meets user needs.
  • International political, legal and legislative frameworks

The list of themes and questions are meant to be illustrative only. We welcome a diversity of research on the topic.


As part of Emerald’s Open Access programme, we are looking to publish a number of Special Issues in 2017 and 2018 as Open Access. In particular, we are looking to support special issues that focus on the themes outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This issue will be published fully Open Access as an additional publication in the 2018 volume of the journal. All costs associated with Publishing this issue as Open Access will be covered by Emerald, and there will be no costs to the authors.
Benefits of publishing your article as Open Access include:

Your article will be accessible by all and free to read online, so there is potential to greatly increase readership and citations. 
As an author you will be able to deposit your work (final version) anywhere without limitations or restrictions i.e. personal website, institutional repository
The special issue will feature in a marketing campaign which will promote the initiative and the articles and issues included.
To enable us to publish your article as Open Access, we will require you to complete a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CCBY), in place of the Emerald Copyright transfer form. Full details of the licence can be found here -

Submissions to Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at Please select the issue you are submitting to.

Deadline for Submission: August 1 2017

Guest Editors

Dr Richard Oloruntoba, University of Newcastle, Australia – [email protected]
Dr Ruth Banomyong, ThammasatUniversity, Thailand – [email protected]


Richard Oloruntoba, PhD (Newcastle, Australia). Richard is a Senior Lecturer in the Newcastle Business School, Australia. He has published extensively in the area of humanitarian operations and humanitarian logistics. He is an International Research Fellow in the Humanitarian Innovation Initiative at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University USA. He is a member of the editorial advisory boards of International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management (IJPDLM) and the Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management (JHLSCM). His research has been used in the training of logistics staff by Oxfam UK and Emergency Management Queensland. Richard has served on the board of the Migrant Resource Council, Queensland, and has been recognised for his research. He was awarded the DB Schenker Award for Outstanding Research in Logistics in 2014; and the Highly Commended Thesis Award in the Emerald/European Fund for Management Development Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards 2013. He is an active emergency first responder volunteer with the New South Wales State Emergency Services.

Ruth Banomyong, PhD (Cardiff). Ruth is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of International Business, Logistics and Transport Management at the Faculty of Commerce & Accountancy (a.k.a Thammasat Business School), Thammasat University in Thailand. Since 1995, Ruth has been a logistics consultant for international agencies such as the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), The World Bank, The Asian Development Bank (ADB), The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), etc.


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