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Humanitarian organisations claim to protect civilians from conflict, and they conceptualise protection as encompassing activities that uphold individual rights in accordance with international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee laws. South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda have experienced five decades of international interventions that have claimed to offer protection; this region has been and continues to be a crucible for new protection policies. At the same time, many of those who are being ‘protected’ do not feel safer despite these humanitarian activities. Instead, they seek alternative methods of safety, including through forms of solidarity. Therefore, there is a need to refocus scholarship on what people do to protect themselves and others around them, and how these methods of keeping strangers safe interact with humanitarian logics and politics of protection. The panel is interested in the diverse moral, religious and political ideas that underpin contrasting ideas of safety and protection. The panel will seek to draw out the political realities and contests for authority that are part of claims to be able to protect in contexts of conflict. We are particularly interested in the politics of solidarity that forms around attempts to stay safe. The panel will prioritise papers that share new empirical material.