Category Archives: Covid-19: Impacts in the humanitarian field

Understanding the history, dynamics and workings of epidemics

J. Freney

Jean Freney Microbiologiste, professeur émérite des universités

Where do epidemics come from, how do they spread, and how do they behave? To answer these questions, and to introduce this issue’s theme, it was first deemed necessary to consider Covid-19’s place in the long line of previous epidemics and develop a better understanding of those yet to come. Jean Freney has risen superbly to the challenge. Continue reading

Learning the hard way: how the Ebola virus experience can help Guinea deal with Covid-19

S. Maltais

Stéphanie Maltais Docteure en développement international et chargée de cours à l’Université Laval (Québec)

Resilience can emerge from fragility. This is what Stéphanie Maltais observed from her research conducted in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis in Guinea between 2013 and 2016. Lessons that can be applied to the current pandemic. Continue reading

What the Covid-19 crisis tells us about our ability to learn

F. Grünewald

François Grünewald Directeur général et scientifique du Groupe URD

The ability to learn from previous crises and adapt those lessons to any new context is one of the keys to disaster management, including health disasters. François Grünewald’s article seeks to put the management of the Covid-19 crisis into perspective in light of the lessons learnt from previous health crises. Continue reading

The central role of community health in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic: the experience of Médecins du Monde Canada

C. Cébron

S.-R. Hyppolite

N. Pollaert

Chloé Cébron, Shelley-Rose Hyppolite et Nadja Pollaert Médecins du Monde Canada

Might a community approach be one of the solutions for social distancing, the scope of which has been revealed by the current pandemic? This is the argument put forward by the three authors, members of Médecins du Monde Canada. Continue reading

Tough choices: moral challenges experienced by aid workers during the Covid-19 pandemic

M. Kasztura

F. Duroch

Miriam Kasztura and Françoise Duroch Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) MSF’s Operational Centre  in Geneva (Switzerland)

The truly unprecedented nature of the pandemic has mobilised and confused humanitarian NGOs and their staff as much. Forced inaction mixed with setting up programmes within a context of high uncertainty has resulted in strong, sometimes painful, moral experiences. The research project initiated within Médecins Sans Frontières Switzerland has already made it possible to collect useful data both for the present crisis and for others to come. Continue reading

Responding to Covid-19 in conflicts: difficult but necessary

M. Hofman

Michiel Hofman Médecins Sans Frontières

In this article, Michiel Hofman reflects on the difficulty of implementing a health response in war zones especially in a context where States are mistrusted, where non-state armed groups call on increasing hostilities and where humanitarian actors must deal with travel restrictions, supply shortages and fundraising gaps. Continue reading

A test of dignity: an anthropological analysis of Covid-19 responses in West Africa

Y. Jaffré

F. Hane

H. Kane

Yannick Jaffré Anthropologue, directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS

Fatoumata Hane Socio-anthropologue, maître de conférences à l’Université Assane Seck de Ziguinchor (Sénégal)

Hélène Kane Docteure en anthropologie de la santé, chercheuse associée à l’Unité mixte internationale Environnement, Santé, Sociétés (CNRS UMIESS)

The three authors of this article conducted an anthropological analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic as seen from and experienced in Africa, shedding valuable insight into how this pandemic has been perceived by the continent’s populations, scientists and politicians. It also – and perhaps most importantly – offers an astute interpretation of the representations made and the demands for dignity expressed. Continue reading

The Covid-19 pandemic: a double burden in humanitarian crises

K. Blanchet

Karl Blanchet Professor in Humanitarian Public Health and Director of Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action

From refugee camps in Kenya or Jordan to countries in conflict such as Yemen or Syria, the expertise of humanitarian actors is key to limiting the spread of the pandemic in countries where health systems are fragile. In order to better define the stakes and the different tools that can be mobilised, the new Covid-19 Humanitarian platform allows the systematic production of orientation documents and the sharing of lessons learned for a better impact of humanitarian programmes. Continue reading

An unhealthy combination: War, Covid-19 and the politics of metaphor

N. Niland

Norah Niland Co-founder of United Against Inhumanity (UAI)

At a time when multilateralism is collapsing and populism rising, Norah Niland highlights the new fragilities that Covid-19 has revealed in local and international systems of governance. If the pandemic is further complicating access to communities already affected by war, what should our duty of outrage be in the face of empty political declarations and actions that enable armed conflict and the slaughter of civilians? Continue reading

Why Covid-19 should not be considered as solely a humanitarian emergency

A. Khakee

Anna Khakee Department of International Relations, University of Malta

Should the health, social and political blast represented by the current pandemic lead humanitarian workers to break free from the principle of neutrality? In this article, the author gives a clearly affirmative answer to this question. Anna Khakee believes that humanitarian NGOs must take a stance so as not to be exploited by only helping to return to the status quo ante. Continue reading