Category Archives: Perspectives (VEN)

Biafra: at the heart of postcolonial humanitarian ambiguities

Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps • Historienne, université de Manchester et université de Genève

M. L. Desgrandchamps

In short, this is where it all began: history and legend, ambiguities and dilemmas, principles and their limits. Drawing on her recent book on Biafra, Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps looks back at what took place in Nigeria fifty years ago. Pierre Micheletti and Bruno-Georges David then discuss how images and representations of humanitarian work have evolved over half a century.
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“The portrayal of humanitarianism has, to say the least, dramatically changed in 50 years”

Entretien avec Pierre Micheletti et Bruno-Georges David

B.-G. David

P. Micheletti

From pictures of famished children in Biafra to those of victims of the Sulawesi tsunami, have portrayals of humanitarianism changed very much? Above all, do these images help capture the reality of humanitarian action in people’s minds or do they only camouflage it to better “sell” a cause? These are questions that we asked both Pierre Micheletti and Bruno-Georges David to better understand the constraints and drifts of communication in humanitarianism. Read the article

Haiti: tensions between aid relief and development in the health sector

Nicolas Lemay-Hébert • Senior Lecturer in the International Development Department, University of Birmingham (UK)

Andréanne Martel • Collaborative Research Program Officer at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) in Ottawa (Canada)

Patrick Robitaille • Associate expert of the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid

N. Lemay-Hébert

A. Martel

P. Robitaille

Since 2010 and the surge of aid on Haiti, the Caribbean island has undoubtedly become the symbol of the failure of major international programmes. For the three authors the emergency and development actors’ conflicting objectives are one of the keys to this failure.

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Humanitarians in the age of counter terrorism: rejected by rebels, co-opted by States

Michiel Hofman • Médecins Sans Frontières

M. Hofman

Because rhetoric – and practice – of the fight against terrorism drives rebel movements to the edges of International Humanitarian Law, NGOs would be more and more under the influence of States. The analysis developed by Michiel Hofman is based on concrete examples permitting us to be quite often – so to speak – in the midst of humanitarian negotiations.

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The Rohingya refugee crisis: forgotten then, forgotten now

Tarik Kadir • Secours Islamique France

T. Kadir

Lifted with difficulty to the category of major crisis, the situation of the Rohingya refugees at the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh is forever bogging down. Whilst the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has declared that “this seemed to be a classical example of ethnic cleansing”, Western chanceries are hesitating, hindered by the ambiguous position of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Tarik Kadir, engaged in the field alongside Secours Islamique France, explains to us the situation, its origins and its perspectives.

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Humanitarian aid in Palestine: reconsidering neutrality through child protection

Joan Deas • Doctorante en sciences politiques (Sciences Po Grenoble, France) et ancienne chargée de recherche au Gaza Community Mental Health Programme   

Elise Reslinger • Doctorante en sciences sociales et politiques (université de Bath, Royaume-Uni) et ancienne chargée de protection pour l’Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient (UNRWA)   

J. Deas

E. Reslinger

In November 1947 the Partition Plan for Palestine was adopted, which would open the chapter of the Arab-Israeli wars. Seventy years later, the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to deteriorate, particularly in the Gaza Strip, caught up in a process of “de-development”. Joan Deas and Elise Reslinger, through the lens of Palestinian children protection, invite us to think and question the current aid paradigm, nowadays ossified by a managerial approach favoring a lack of accountability from the occupying power.

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Humanitarian aid as a deterrent in Greece

Arjun Claire • Humanitarian Affairs consultant   

A. Claire

Humanitarian aid has often been instrumentalised by States. But more recently, it may have been employed as a tool to manage the “refugee crisis” in Europe’s frontline Member States. Taking Greece as a reference, the author contends that humanitarian aid may not only be an instrument to address the consequences of EU’s restrictive migration policies, but could even be a component of a broader strategy to deter further arrivals to European shores. He argues that the emergency in Greece is a construct, which legitimises the presence of humanitarian actors, and by extension, validates the existence of substandard living conditions. Their disengagement being difficult to envisage, Arjun Claire proposes that humanitarian actors must mitigate the consequences of their implication by actively resisting attempts towards the sustenance of a discursive emergency.

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Sheltering, hosting or receiving refugees: the unresolved ambiguities of the La Linière refugee camp

Franck Esnée • Ancien chef de mission Médecins Sans Frontières en France   
Michaël Neuman • Directeur d’études, Centre de réflexion sur l’action et les savoirs humanitaires (Crash)/Médecins Sans Frontières   

F. Esnée

M. Neuman

Frank Esnée and Michaël Neuman invite us here to follow up on previous work. The latter and Angélique Muller already wrote an article about the social and political actors of Grande-Synthe and its refugee settlement, Basroch. Following the dismantlement of this camp and the resettlement of refugees in the new La Linière camp, in the spring 2016, the authors look back on a year of hesitations or even inconsistencies, which say a lot about our relationship to the refugees.

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Yemen: a conflict behind closed doors

Francis Frison-Roche • Chercheur au CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Université Paris 2-CERSA, ancien directeur du projet « Aide à la transition démocratique au Yémen »

F. Frison-Roche

In the shadow of Syria, Yemen has been
dragged over the last two years into an increasingly radical and deadly war in which the international community and the media have shown very
little interest. François Frison-Roche helps us to understand the causes and origins of this conflict
in the hope of saving it from the oblivion into
which it is sinking.
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World Humanitarian Summit: a lost opportunity?

Antonio Donini • Humanitarian researcher and analyst


A. Donini

Did the World Humanitarian Summit which was the major topic covered in the last issue of Humanitarian Alternatives – published just a few days before the event – hold all its promises or only give birth to a mouse, as we then feared? Antonio Donini delivers here a more subtle analysis, to be true, slightly less disenchanted, but redoubtably argumented. Mentioning at the same time the very recent United Nations summit relating to migrants, the latter being the main theme of this new issue, major cause for which there is unfortunately so little to rejoice about, the author brings forward the hidden stake of the actual humanitarian system: its institutional reform.

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