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  • Though the decision is ultimately up to each humanitarian organisation’s management, it is strongly advisable that vehicles should not be part of military convoys, or even civilian humanitarian convoys with armed escorts.
  • Radio/telephone/communications contact should be kept between at least the vehicle at the back of the convoy and the leader.
  • Where possible, vehicles should carry communications equipment capable of reaching a location or focal point in a different location.
  • Planned convoy dates and contents should not be shared widely, or with unauthorised parties.
  • Local communities, police, military or governments may have procedures for organising convoys, or for passing through specific areas. Humanitarian organisations should liaise with proper authority figures before moving through unknown areas.
  • Humanitarian agencies may chose to operate their own convoys, or collaborate to form joint convoys. If more than one organisation is participating in a convoy, all parties should agree to and understand on rules in advance, and even develop written agreements in necessary.  
  • Agencies may use commercial vehicles, or they may utilise their own leased/owned vehicles. The policies and rules in place for convoys should reflect the transport arrangement. If commercial transporters are used in a convoy, terms of the convoy may need to be written into transporter contracts. 
  • The person/team on the receiving end of a convoy should ideally be informed in advance of what the anticipated cargo is, and if possible should receive an advanced copy of of the packing list, and receive estimated dates/times of arrival.

In the event of a cross border operation:

  • All customs related documentation should be identified and provided in advance to the driver, convoy leader, and intended recipient. 
  • A trustworthy person from the organising humanitarian agency should inspect cargo and vehicles both prior to arriving and the border crossing and after goods are cleared to ensure that cargo has not been tampered with and avoid accusation of smuggling. 
  • If cargo is offloaded and transloaded onto new vehicles, a representative from the organising humanitarian agency should be present to observe the process. Ideally, cargo should be counted after the transloading is complete to ensure that no theft or loss has occurred. 
  • Organisers should plan for border crossing times.
    • Vehicles that must wait for days or even weeks at border crossings in some cases. Drivers must have the ability to eat and sleep safely while still maintaining physical presence around cargo vehicles.
    • Ideally, vehicles should be able to return safely in daylight hours if rejected at the border. 

Convoy Organisers

It is strongly advised that convoy organisers should:

  • Appoint a convoy leader with experience and knowledge of the route.
  • Where possible, plan the route carefully in advance with designated stopping places.
  • Generate and provide all required documentation, including waybills and packing lists.
  • Decide before hand what procedures to follow if the convoy is obstructed or blocked, and brief all drivers fully before starting movement.
  • Identify a security focal point and/or organiser outside the convoy who will be on call during convoy.
  • Conduct detailed briefings with transporters/drivers.
  • Ensure they have driver names, contact details, and vehicle plate/registration numbers prior to departure.
  • Maintain communication with convoy leaders at pre-determined intervals where possible.
  • Following each trip, record any security intendents or checkpoints for future planning.
  • Develop a repair and recovery plan (spare parts, a chase vehicle, easy access to a recovery vehicle, etc.).
  • Recover visibility items once the mission has been completed, especially in cases where commercial vehicles are in use.

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