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Many humanitarian and protection actors are not proactively addressing threats to civilians in conflict, with limited focus on preventing or reducing risks of violence, coercion or deliberate deprivation. There is growing recognition of the need to shift approaches to humanitarian protection, and better consider how civilian engagement strategies can be supported, or at the very least not undermined. Communities in conflict are too often approached as passive victims, when in fact they often engage with armed actors to mediate and negotiate prevention and reduction of violence. Opportunities exist to enhance proactive approaches to reducing risks of violence, coercion or deliberate deprivation when these are based on adequate understanding of the complex, dynamic relationships between communities and armed actors, and when approaches are tailored to those communities. This panel will share the findings of research on community engagement with armed actors in the Central African Republic and South Sudan as well as share emerging practices by organisations that support proactive approaches to protection risk reduction and prevention. The panel will bring together researchers, practitioners and policy-makers on the issue.