Category Archives: Issue N°7 – March 2018

Summary – Issue N°7

  Boris Martin Squaring the circle p. 3
  Michiel Hofman Humanitarians in the age of counter terrorism: rejected by rebels, co-opted by States p. 12
  Tarik Kadir The Rohingya refugee crisis: forgotten then, forgotten now p. 26
Focus : NGOs and the private sector: The State as an arbitrator?”
  Jessica Fleurinor and Caroline Putman Cramer The ICRC and partnerships with the private sector: evolution and ethical considerations p. 38
  Pierre Boris N’nde Refugees wedged between corporate malfunctions and the lack of State involvement: the example of a cash programme in Cameroon p. 50
  Interview with

Patrice Paoli

“What’s important, is the mission and that everyone be inspired by common guidelines” p. 64
  Joël Le Corre Social Impact Bonds or the pyromaniac State p. 73
  Interview with

Jan Egeland

“We should be as ambitious in protection of the civilians as we have become in assistance” p. 88
  Julien Potet Snakebites in Africa: a humanitarian and political fight p. 101
  MAPS The MAPS’s Collective p. 110
  Totally Brax Crazy Guidelines p. 125
   Books “NGOs. De-politicization of the resistance to neoliberalism? A developing countries Perspective” p. 126
From Lesbos to Calais: How Europe creates encampments p. 130

To download the summary in a PDF version please click here.

The build-up of camps in Europe






From Lesbos to Calais:
How Europe creates encampments

Collective Babels, Yasmine Bouagga (ed.)

Publisher: Le passager clandestin,
coll. “Bibliothèque des frontières”, 2017

(Published in French)



Publisher’s comments

Between Lesbos and Calais, an endless string of confinement facilities punctuate a migrant’s journey. Be they shantytowns, refugee camps, retention centres, or migrant “hotspots”, these sites have transformed border zones into spaces for living and waiting. The resurgence of refugee camps in Europe marks a turning point that draws our attention on a crisis of hospitality that up to now has provided temporary relief and confinement as the sole alternatives for managing today’s migratory flows.

This study, dealing with the matter of migrant camps as a new kind of emergency reception system in Europe, examines the role of these facilities as regulators of migrant flows, and their impact on Europeans. Through field surveys, testimonials, and specific examples, it presents a wide perspective, starting from the impact of camps on the lives of migrants, to the financial windfall that has fallen in the lap of many businesses in Europe.

We also learn that refugee camps, where tens of thousands of lives have been put on hold, serve as havens for social experimentation or for a utopian experience beyond the reach of governments.

“Bibliothèque des frontières” [Library of Borders], a collection of seven books published by Michel Agier and Stefan Le Courant, examines today’s European border violence and the changes in current migration policies. To this end, the Babels research project of the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) has brought together some forty researchers in Europe under the scientific leadership of the anthropologist Michel Agier, with the assistance of Stefan Le Courant.  Read the article

Re-politicizing NGOs





“NGOs. De-politicization of the resistance to neoliberalism? A developing countries Perspective”,

Journal Alternatives Sud

Centre tricontinental

Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Editions Syllepse, 2nd semester 2017

(Published in French)


            T he issue of the CETRI journal Alternatives Sud for the second half of 2017 provides an interesting contribution to the debate that has been at the centre of the last two issues of Humanitarian Alternatives. The seven articles it contains raise questions by re-politicizing the issue of co-operation between NGOs and public and private (in particular for profit) stakeholders. They help to explain the causes of the de-politicization of NGOs, the challenges arising from the development of neoliberalism, tending to reduce the role of the State and change the organizational culture of NGOs (the instrumentalization to which NGOs are subject, the professionalization of management, paternalism and systematic reform, both often privileged), as announced in the editorial by Julie Godin.

            This publication includes analyses by both academics and professionals from the humanitarian sector, examining from a critical point of view the global issues affecting this whole sector: the risk of instrumentalization (Chapter 1 by Thomas Gebauer and Shankar Gopalakrishnan), and paternalism (Chapter 7 by Léon Koungou). But the review provides an insight into geographical regions such as Latin America (Chapter 4 by David Dumoulin Kervran) and Central America (Chapter 5 by José Luis Rocha), as well as a sector-based analysis (environmental NGOs in Chapter 8 by Alain Le Sann). Other articles are case studies on subjects such as the Indian women’s movement (Chapter 2 by Sruka Roy), Palestinian NGOs (Chapter 3 by Walid Salem) and NGOs in Uganda (Chapter 6 by Maria Nassali).

            In this report, we have chosen to present two chapters in more detail: Chapter 1 by Thomas Gebauer and Shankar Gopalakrishnan, dealing with the general issue of instrumentalization, and Chapter 6 by Maria Nassali, on the specific case of NGOs in Uganda.

      In Chapter 1, Thomas Gebauer and Shankar Gopalakrishnan advocate the re-politicization of NGOs in order to avoid the dangers of instrumentalization. They speak out against the consequences of institutional funding (a vector of apoliticism), involving rationales based on control and performance, which tend to lead NGOs to position themselves more readily in the emergency aid sector. This rules out the possibility of addressing the root causes of social inequalities, and prevents them from constituting a true vehicle of social justice. On the contrary, it favours a status quo linked to the hegemonic neoliberal culture according to which the world seems to be “divided between people who provide aid and those who receive it, [which] appears more acceptable that a world divided between the privileged and the socially excluded”. We must therefore be particularly vigilant as regards any collaboration with stakeholders promoting their own commercial (and profit-making) interests, for instance in the military and security sectors, and “philanthro-capitalists”, who are agencies seeking political legitimacy. Thomas Gebauer puts forward five pathways to enable NGOs to re-politicize themselves: by developing a more critical mind-set, adopting political stances, becoming more independent, restructuring their actions to bring them in line with social movements and fostering networking to underpin more long-term policy changes.

            In Chapter 6, Maria Nassali, a lawyer, presents the situation faced by associations in Uganda, where such organizations are seen as government appendages as a result of an increasingly restrictive environment (tightening of the legal framework and erosion of the freedom of assembly), conducive to political interference. This situation is compounded by strong rivalries as regards the securing of co-operation resources and inclusion in the networks of power, in order to manage to survive. These dynamics largely encourage NGOs to retrench behind an “apolitical” attitude. The author outlines a way out from this through the strengthening of political awareness within associations by advocating militancy (in favour of subjects to which rights are attached) geared towards the legal sphere, with the aim of continuing to strive for social justice. In spite of a case study underlining the limited scope for action in view of the authoritarian context and the neoliberal functioning of the co-operation sector, Maria Nassali manages to put forward a proposal providing much room for hope.

            This issue publishes in French many articles that have already appeared in English-language journals. The studies included are challenging, their timeliness and the nuanced-nature of their commentaries address the issues of the aid sector with much subtlety. Without going so far as to condemn the choices made by the NGOs presented, rather they raise questions on the core issues of this sector. The NGOs’ choices and their consequences are analysed, while taking into account the contexts in which they occurred. These articles clearly show how NGOs, facing overwhelming challenges, become caught up in neoliberal thinking. The authors insist that there is no magic formula to solve the problems facing NGOs. However, this issue outlines with intelligence and tact some genuine courses of action which could increase the room for manoeuvre in the sector, calling for renewed politicization within the humanitarian community.

Lucie Laplace

Doctoral student in political science, Triangle Laboratory, Lumière Lyon 2 University

Translated from the French by Fay Guerry

To read the article in PDF click here.

ISBN of the ‘article (HTML): 978-2-37704-352-1


Crazy Guidelines

Hi my pal! • I loved this book! • Eeks! • Never do that, poor guy! • If you give to one you must
give to all! • Is it a personal choice or is it a reading validated by headquarters? • Neocolonialist! • You are endangering the security and the image of the NGO! • You didn’t read the guidelines or what? • Would you do the same thing with a colleague of the same race as yours? • Pyromaniac! • I will send the information up to headquarters! • OK… • Why don’t we go to the OXFAM party?

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• • @rashbrax

Snakebites in Africa: a humanitarian and political fight

Julien Potet • Médecins Sans Frontières

J. Potet

This is an innovation probably ignored by the public at large and maybe even by some of the humanitarian actors. With 100,000 mortal bites per year, poisoning by snakes is now considered as a neglected tropical disease. Julien Potet explains to us how Médecins Sans Frontières has seized this issue to make a fight out of it that is both humanitarian and political.

Read the article

The ICRC and partnerships with the private sector: evolution and ethical considerations

Jessica Fleurinor and Caroline Putman Cramer • International Committee of the Red Cross

J. Fleurinor

C. Putman Cramer

Jessica Fleurinor and Caroline Putnam Cramer invite us to an extension of the first part of our Focus theme. The International Committee of the Red Cross effectively did not have before the opportunity of presenting its approach to partnerships with the private sector. This is now the case, within a perspective going from the banker Dunant to the presence of the ICRC within the World Economic Forum (WEF) and comprising the Corporate Support Group especially created within the institution.

Read the article

Refugees wedged between corporate malfunctions and the lack of State involvement: the example of a cash programme in Cameroon

Pierre Boris N’nde • Docteur en anthropologie sociale et culturelle (Université Laval, Québec, Canada)

P. N’nde

Cash-transfer programmes are now widespread in humanitarian settings, just as partnerships with companies that promote them. Here is the case of the Gado Badzéré refugee camp in Cameroon. For Pierre Boris N’nde, the unsuccessful initiatives of Mobile Telecommunication Networks breached the “do no harm” principle and resulted in violence that was left for NGOs to manage. The Cameroon State, positioning itself in terms of security, here failed in its role as arbitrator. Read the article

“We should be as ambitious in protection of civilians as we have become in assistance”

Interview with Jan Egeland • Secretary General of the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council

J. Egeland

Former United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland is Secretary General of the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council. Last January, he gave us an interview during which he reviewed the current major humanitarian issues.

Read the article

“What’s important, is the mission and that everyone be inspired by common guidelines”

Entretien avec Patrice Paoli • Directeur du Centre de crise et de soutien

P. Paoli

Patrice Paoli is the director of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs Crisis Centre. While the French State reaffirms its desire to involve companies and foundations in humanitarian action, it was essential to know more about this approach. For Patrice Paoli, it is based on pragmatism, collective action and the effective synergy of the means of each actor. NGOs now must position themselves according to this roadmap.

Read the article