Category Archives: Issue 11 – July 2019

Summary – Issue N°11

  Christophe Buffet

Humanitarian aid workers and the challenge of climate change

p. 1

Focus: Climate change: Understanding, anticipating, adapting

  Guillaume Devars, Julien Fouilland, François Grünewald, Thuy-Binh Nguyen et Julie Mayans

Anticipating uncertainty, preparing for the unknown: humanitarian actors in the face of issues linked to climate change

p. 10
  Runa Khan, Marc Elvinger et William Lebedel

For the climate, end the distinction between humanitarian aid and development aid

p. 24
  Marie-Noëlle Reboulet

From carbon offsetting to climate solidarity

p. 34
  Bruno Jochum, François Delfosse, Maria Guevara, Léo L. Tremblay, Carol Devine

Choices at the time of the climate emergency

p. 44
  Audrey Sala

How to take care of humankind at +2°C?

p. 64
  Arjun Claire et Jérôme Élie

The difficult legal consideration of climate migrants

p. 76


  Manon Radosta


What does the future have in store for humanitarian aid logistics?

p. 90


  Michel Maietta

The geopolitics of homophobia

p. 104


Agnès Varraine-Leca

Yemen: living with bombs and landmines

p. 116


  Totally Brax /Books   p. 134

Tribute to Yannis Behrakis

A red sun is seen over a dinghy overcrowded with Syrian refugees drifting in the Aegean sea between Turkey and Greece after its motor broke down off the Greek island of Kos, August 11, 2015. United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) called on Greece to take control of the “total chaos” on Mediterranean islands, where thousands of migrants have landed. About 124,000 have arrived this year by sea, many via Turkey, according to Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR director for Europe.

With this photo of Yannis Behrakis on the cover of this issue, we want to evoke as much the reality of migrants who risk and still lose their lives in the Mediterranean as this so-called alliance of man and nature, largely fissured since the first has clearly decided to subject the latter to all its excesses. In this photo, man and nature rub shoulders. The magnificent sun darts its last rays of a day on the waters of the Aegean Sea as if it would never stop this ritual. For a bit, we would think the innocent spectacle of a sunset dreamed of by all lovers. It is almost to forget the frail craft punctuated by a few human beings wondering, perhaps, what they did to hate this show that, like everyone else, they once revered. A silent dialogue between the solar star and the wretched of the Earth. Strange behind closed door barely fractured by the camera of a great Greek photographer, died at the age of 58, last March, Yannis Berhakis. We wish to pay tribute to this photographer who, throughout his career, did everything to show the world of men what he inflicted on his contemporaries, what he inflicted himself. In an interview he gave in 2016 to our colleagues from the ICRC delegation in Paris (, the photographer was speaking about the history of this grandmother, his, driven out of Izmir by the Turkish during the “great catastrophe” of 1922. Refugee in Marseille, France, she found back her children after two years thanks to the services of the researches of the French and Hellenic Red Crosses and with the support of the ICRC. Born of this story, Yannis never forgot. And it was he who, one day in 2015, pressed the button to immortalize these refugees of modern times, grouped together on a boat drifting between Turkey and Greece…

Boris Martin

U-Man, a new humanitarian radio programme

Pierre-Alain Gourion is the founder of Bubble Art, a Lyon-based multi-cultural association that has launched “U-Man” a radio and video programme on humanitarian action that intends to become a sounding board.

Humanitarian Alternatives  –  Pierre-Alain Gourion, please describe to us this new one-off thing called Bubble Art. How did this multi-faceted project come about?

Pierre-Alain Gourion  –  Bubble Art is the association I created when I was still a lawyer. After a thirty-five-year career and with a strong interest in culture, I thought that creating an independent legal structure to publish, write, shoot pictures, make sound recordings would make good sense. I first used it mainly to present art exhibits and organise Argentinian tango events, and later we set ourselves up in an old boiler making factory that we converted into a loft and a playhouse to launch live shows and on-camera radio programmes.

A. H.  –  How did your background as a lawyer prepare you for the Bubble Art experience?

P.-A. G.  –  It was while presenting our humanitarian U-Man programme that it dawned on me that my own professional experience could really give it substance. By substance, I mean an international dimension, an outreach to others. I had acted as legal counsel for the Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples (MRAP) and for ten years, I had represented the victims of racial incidents and I had battled against the deportation of foreign nationals. But this did not turn me into a legal activist. I believe that a lawyer cannot be an activist. He must stay one step back from the issues he’s involved with. If he becomes an activist, he’s then wrapped up in a cause. You know, when you’ve done a job for thirty-five years, you get to know all the ins and outs, and my work thrilled me to the point that I was ready to carry it on to my last breath. Looking back, I reminisced over old movie sets – I had been assistant film director before studying law – and I also wanted to write. But writing takes time. So, I quit my job to go back to the work that I had loved. 

A. H.  –  Your U-Man programme is about humanitarian action. Why did do you find this interesting? 

P.-A. G.  –  By a stroke of luck, the background of a friend of mine, Benjamin Courlet, a 30-year-old humanitarian and former business student, caught my attention. I wanted to interview him as part of Bubble’s cultural program “Living Culture”. So, with Triangle Génération Humanitaire and Handicap International where he had worked, we did a programme. One thing led to another, and we moved ahead. And it was while doing this show, that I realised that there was a void to fill. When you talk about humanitarianism or environmental protection, you touch a soft spot. What can we do together? How can we help one another? This has now become a trend in France for sure, but also in the EU and abroad, and I am really amazed when I work with young people of how concerned they are about the future of their planet!  

A. H.  –  Your U-Man programme is available in podcast and video format, but also in written form since a transcript is available on your blog on Médiapart. What’s to be found there?

P.-A. G.  –  U-Man is in fact available as radio, video and written programmes. The idea is to get people to discuss and get involved. We’ve also come up with another series, “Founders of Humanitarianism”, in which we recently interviewed Xavier Emmanuelli, the co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, but we also plan to interview humanitarian technicians. We also want to organise round table discussions with short videos on humanitarian or environmental topics, such as the “Time to Be”, where we interview an eyewitness speaking directly to viewers. We want to create videos that address people’s concerns and that can be passed on to city officials and later, I hope, to other francophone countries. We will also ultimately try to approach non-French, and non-French-speaking NGOs.

A. H.  –  You have mentioned the link between humanitarianism and the environment, and this will precisely be the theme of Focus in our July issue. How do you see these two interacting?

P.-A. G.  –  We are at a historical turning point when these two concepts are intersecting. The history of humanitarianism goes back to the origins of the laws of war, back to the nineteenth century when the Red Cross was founded, and when it was later developed by the French doctors in the years 1970-1980 with the creation of NGOs like Médecins Sans Frontières, Médecins du Monde, etc. The Brits also developed their own idea of humanitarianism, but differently from the French in that theirs maintains a stronger interaction with the State. Then there are the growing technical considerations of humanitarian operations. And today we see all the excitement around the environment, the questions raised on managing growth, on the meaning of progress. We’ve reached a time when these two themes are coming together and merging into one.

To know more about U-Man:

Translated from the French by Alan Johnson

Yemen: living with bombs and landmines

All credits and legends : © Agnès Varraine-Leca/MSF

A. Varraine-Leca

Four years of war, with more than 19,000 air strikes by the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition and conservative estimates suggest a human toll of 90,000. Civilians are paying a heavy price, the first victims of the coalition’s strikes as well as the ground battles between loyalist forces – loyal to President Hadi and supported by the coalition – and Ansar Allah’s troops. The latter are themselves responsible for heavy civilian casualties, especially due to their intensive use of landmines in the west of the country(1)For a better understanding of the causes and context of this conflict, see Francis Frison-Roche, “Yemen: a conflict behind closed doors”, Humanitarian Alternatives, n°4, March 2017, p.12-33,

Agnès Varraine-Leca travelled to Yemen for Médecins Sans Frontières, three timesbetween March 2018 and May 2019. She recently documented the living conditions inside the city of Hodeidah, where a military operation started in June 2018, as well as the consequences of the bombings on civilians living in the Saada Governorate, in the north of the country, which has been most targeted by the coalition. In late December 2018, she also went to Mocha, in the Taiz Governorate, where landmines are wreaking havoc, maiming and killing children, and preventing families from cultivating their land. For a year and a half she has documented this war “behind closed doors”; a photographic work that will be published as a book in 2020.

Yemen, Saada Governorate, Haydan hospital, 20 April 2019
Patients wait their turn near the triage area in Haydan hospital. On 26 October 2015, the hospital was hit by a Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition airstrike, partially destroying the facility. In February 2017, MSF teams returned to Haydan to start the gradual implementation of medical activities: maternity (March 2017), inpatient department (April 2017), referral to Saada hospitals (May 2017), outpatient department (December 2017). They finished the hospital’s reconstruction in April 2018. In 2018, nearly 14,000 emergency consultations and 3,800 antenatal consultations were conducted at the hospital. The same year, more than 1,500 patients were admitted to the inpatients department. Haydan is located in the Saada Governorate, which remains the governorate most targeted by international coalition airstrikes, according to the independent monitoring group Yemen Data Project (YDP).

Daily life in Sa’dah city (Yemen, April 2019)

Ayman is a barber originally from Ibb, south of Sa’dah city. In 2015, his house in Sa’dah was bombed by a Saudi and Emirati-led coalition airstrike. Twenty-eight members of his family died that day; only three survived including Ayman. He remembers the screams from the rubble, without being able to help them. At that time, he was studying IT. His brother, who owned a barber shop, died in the bombing. Thus Ayman stopped studying and started managing his family’s barber shop. This is the first time he has returned to the scene since 2015.

Ayman’s barber shop.

A camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Sa’dah. Mosabi and his family had to leave Harad, near the Saudi border, a few months after the war started. They fled to Hodeidah and then settled in this camp in Sa’dah. Mosabi has 19 children and 3 wives.

The court in Sa’dah was destroyed in late 2015 by an airstrike.

Destroyed buildings in the city of Sa’dah.

In 2015, a park and several shops were bombed during an airstrike near the old city of Sa’dah.

A crossroads in the city of Sa’dah.

The post office in Sa’dah was destroyed by an airstrike.

Daily life in Mocha (Yemen, December 2018)

Defused landmines. Mawza is located in Taiz Governorate, 45 minutes to the east of the city of Mocha. It is a very poor rural area where people depend on their land to live. The area was taken from Ansar Allah’s control by forces loyal to President Hadi, backed by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition in early 2018. The fighting damaged the fields and thus, the main livelihood of the 13,000 inhabitants of Mawza. When the military troops withdrew, thousands of antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were planted in the area. Between August and December, MSF teams in Mocha received around 150 people injured by landmines or IEDs.

A third were children playing in the fields. Landmines and IEDs are defused by military forces. Local NGOs are responsible locating these devices.

Mocha. Nasser, 14, and his father Mohammed Abdou, come from Mafraq Al Mocha, one hour from Mocha. On 7 December, Nasser was tending his sheep with his uncle and his cousin, they were planning to go to the mountains. Nasser stepped on a landmine in a field. He and his uncle were injured by the blast. His uncle got shrapnel in his eyes and was transferred to MSF’s surgical hospital in Mocha, and then to MSF’s trauma hospital in Aden. Nasser had multiple injuries, and his right foot was amputated as soon as he arrived at the hospital. “The bone was completely shattered so there was nothing left to save”, explains Farouk, physiotherapist. Nasser had previously had his thumb amputated because of a gunshot, which now makes it difficult for him to walk with crutches. Mohammed Abdou, Nasser’s father, explains that the fighting has intensified this year. As the military troops withdrew, they planted many landmines near Mafraq Al Mocha and in the area along the frontlines. MSF is supporting an advanced field hospital in Mafraq Al Mocha. The city’s residents know some of the places to avoid because there are landmines, but there are not enough signs to indicate the presence of landmines in the area or demining personnel. Mohammed Abdou is now afraid to go into the fields around Mafraq. The picture shows Nasser trying to walk with crutches for the first time, with the help of Farouk, his physiotherapist.

Amarah, 8, and her grandmother Fatma. Amarah was injured by a landmine while playing near her home in Dubba, Mocha district (Taiz Governorate). On 1 December, she was with friends (three girls and a boy) in a sheep field close to Dubba, in the district of Mocha. Amarah saw an object with numbers: when she touched it, the landmine exploded. The explosion injured all four children, killing the boy. Fatma, her grandmother, heard the explosion and ran to the field. Amarah was evacuated on a mule. She was then transferred by car to Mocha military hospital (a one-hour drive), and then to MSF’s surgical hospital in the city. The family knows there are landmines in the area but their exact location is not signposted and many people have been injured, including Amarah’s uncle. Amarah suffered multiple injuries on the right side of her face, her abdomen and her right leg. She underwent several surgical interventions, including a laparotomy.

A child injured by a landmine in Mawza is examined by Elma Wong, anaesthetist, in the emergency room of MSF’s surgical hospital in Mocha. He was injured on 13 December with three other members of his family. Two of them arrived dead at the hospital. The child had shrapnel in his skull, arm and face.

Ali (centre), 18, comes from a small village in a very poor, rural area near Mawza, 45 minutes from Mocha. Two months ago, he was supposed to meet three friends in a field near his house. As he was late, he started running, and suddenly a landmine exploded. Usually, he is very careful when walking in the field, because he knows landmines were planted in the area when the military forces withdrew a few months ago. There are no specific signs to indicate the presence of landmines. His left leg was amputated below the knee; it was already weak due to the polio he contracted as a child. Since the accident, he has been travelling to MSF’s hospital in Mocha twice a week for physiotherapy sessions with Farouk (left). From his village, the journey takes one and half hours.

Ali Hassan, 40, is a driver and a former soldier. Father of two sons and two daughters, he has lived with his family in Hodeidah for 25 years. He was driving near Khawkha, 60 km from Mocha, when a rocket hit his vehicle, injuring six people and killing another. Ali has shrapnel in his face and abdomen and had his left foot amputated. “There is food in Hodeidah, but it’s very expensive. We have regular water shortages and no electricity. A lot of shops are closed inside the city.” Like many people he knows, Ali sent his wife and children to Sana’a for their safety. “Men are staying in Hodeidah to protect their houses. I am far away from my family but what can I do? It’s better for them to be a safer place. The war has changed everything.”

A child sits near disarmed rockets, in Mawza (Mocha district, Taiz Governorate, Yemen).

ISBN of the article (HTML): 978-2-37704-564-8

1 For a better understanding of the causes and context of this conflict, see Francis Frison-Roche, “Yemen: a conflict behind closed doors”, Humanitarian Alternatives, n°4, March 2017, p.12-33,

The geopolitics of homophobia

M. Maietta

Michel Maietta • Senior research fellow at Iris (Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques)

Homophobia, understood as discrimination of all kinds against LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), is still too widely used for internal policy purposes, when it is not part of an international strategy. Michel Maietta describes the grip of homophobia as a (geo)political priority against which it is important to reaffirm that the rights of LGBT people are human rights. Continue reading

What does the future have in store for humanitarian aid logistics?

M. Radosta

Manon RadostaRéseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH)

Often neglected, or at least “accessorized”, logistics is nevertheless essential to the success of humanitarian missions. Not to mention that it represents 60 to 80% of their costs. Based on this observation, and the need to optimise operations traditionally conducted in isolation while also integrating climate issues, eleven international NGOs have reflected on what the logistics of tomorrow could be. A single guiding theme: mutualisation. Continue reading

Anticipating uncertainty, preparing for the unknown: humanitarian actors in the face of issues linked to climate change

G. Devars

J. Fouilland

F. Grünewald

T.-B. Nguyen

J. Mayans

Guillaume Devars, Julien Fouilland, François Grünewald, Thuy-Binh Nguyen et Julie Mayans • Réseau pour la prévention des risques de catastrophes (REPR)

This first article provides an overview of the issues facing humanitarian workers and points out the ambiguities that persist. Insufficient and non-binding normative frameworks do not prevent actors who, themselves, generate a significant environmental impact, from setting up their own anticipatory tools. Continue reading

For the climate, end the distinction between humanitarian aid and development aid

R. Khan

M. Elvinger

W. Lebedel

Runa Khan, Marc Elvinger et William Lebedel • Friendship

Can the consequences of climate change on vulnerable populations contribute to rethinking the structure of aid? Drawing on the example of Bangladesh and an innovative partnership with Luxembourg development cooperation, three directors of the NGO Friendship argue just that. Continue reading