Category Archives: Issue 12 – November 2019

Everything you ever wanted to know about humanitarianism, but were afraid to ask…

Droit et pratique de l’action humanitaire Marina Eudes, Philippe Ryfman, Sandra Szurek (dir.) L.G.D.J, Collection Traités, octobre 2019 (published in French)

Publisher’s note
Humanitarian action, as one of the main international public policies deployed permanently on all continents, is currently providing aid to some 200  million beneficiaries.

The first UN-led World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 highlighted the challenges it now faces, as evidenced by the dimension taken with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, the spread of NGOs’ humanitarian aid, the affirmation of State humanitarianism and the involvement of international organisations.

Humanitarian action is characterised by plurality, diversity and the dispersion of the norms on which it is based, or which it itself produces, notably as a specific professional and social order, with its own ethics, its own language, and as a genuine globalised economy.

Thus, scientific interest justifies apprehending humanitarian action as an autonomous object of analysis, based on a global vision that factors in all circumstances in which it unfolds.

The aim of this book unique amongst French scientific and academic literature is to present the widest and most complete panorama by combining – also uniquely the resources of the law with those of other disciplines, and by bringing together academics, researchers and renowned practitioners. The book hopes to offer food for thought on what the “humanitarian ecosystem” is, the questions raised by its choices and aims between emergency relief and sustainable development.

Students and researchers will appreciate this book, with its scope and insight into practices that had been lacking in their specialty. Practitioners will recognise this in-depth analysis as a useful tool for contemporary humanitarian action.

Edited by Sandra Szurek, Professor Emeritus of the University of Paris Nanterre, Associate Professor at the Institute of Higher International Studies (IHEI) of the University of Paris II Pantheon-Assas, Marina Eudes, Master HDR lecturer at the University of Paris Nanterre, member of CEDIN, Director of the International Criminal Organisations and Courts Diploma, Philippe Ryfman, Professor and Honorary Associate Researcher in the Department of Political Science at the Sorbonne, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, lawyer and consultant.

Summary – Issue N°12

  Vincent Léger

Population science working hand-in-hand with humanitarian workers?

p. 1
Focus : Demography: Figures and ills
  Gilles Pison

World demographic prospects: between certainties and uncertainties

p. 6
  Valéry Ridde, Emmanuel Bonnet, Kadidiatou Kadio, Sarah Louart


Demographics in the service of Universal Health Coverage: examples in West Africa

p. 33
  Emmanuel Matteudi

Demographic transition in the Mediterranean: between rising risks and the necessary adaptations of humanitarian practices

p. 49
  Joséphine Lémouogué, Éric Joël Fofiri Nzossie, Jasmine Laurelle Kahou Nzouyem

Cameroon: reception areas for displaced people, between socio-demographic reconfiguration and managing Persons with Specific Needs

p. 59
  Astrid Fossier-Heckmann et Hugo Tiffou

Environmental health at Médecins du Monde: from the emergence to the structuring of a struggle

p. 78
  Audrey Sala

Chronicle of a foretold manipulation of humanitarian aid?

p. 92


Florence Thune

VIH/sida : pour que la lutte ne devienne pas indétectable

p. 102
  Abdulmonam Eassa

In the closed door of Eastern Ghouta

p. 112
  Totally Brax   p. 129
  Books/Films   Everything you ever wanted to know about humanitarianism, but were afraid to ask… // Two brothers in pictures, a country’s heritage //

Aleppo, an insider’s view

p. 130

Chronicle of a foretold manipulation of humanitarian aid?

A. Sala

Audrey Sala • Revue Alternatives Humanitaires

This article cannot be termed a survey but it has much to say about the increasingly strong signs — for anyone willing to notice them — of the growing influence of private economic interests in the humanitarian sector. Audrey Sala brings us an in-depth insight into the world of convergence, “partnerships of enlightened self-interest” and the creeping appropriation of the humanitarian label by stakeholders that are anything but solidarity actors. Continue reading

Aleppo, an insider’s view

For Sama A film by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts PBS Frontline and Channel 4 National release (France) on October 9th 2019 Presented at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in the Official Selection, Pour Sama received the Œil d’Or Award for Best Documentary

Director’s note

Waad al-Kateab was a young Syrian woman living in Aleppo when war broke out in 2011. During the bombings, everyday life goes on. Her film captures the daily losses, hopes and displays of solidarity amongst the people of Aleppo. Waad and her doctor husband are torn between leaving and protecting their daughter Sama or resisting for the freedom of their country.

Waad al-Kateabis the director, producer and cameraman for the film. In January 2016, she began to provide images of the Syrian conflict to Channel 4 for a series of programmes entitled Inside Aleppo. These videos portraying the conflict in Syria and the extremely complex humanitarian crisis there have broken audience records in the UK. They have been viewed nearly half a billion times online, have won 24 awards and received an Emmy Award in 2016. Waad was a marketing student at Aleppo University when protests against the Assad regime swept the country in 2011. Like several hundred of her fellow Syrians, she has become a citizen journalist determined to reveal the horrors of war. She learned how to film the plight of Aleppo residents as Assad’s forces battled the rebels for control of the city. She stayed on during the siege to report the terrible loss of life. In December 2016, when she and her family were evacuated from Aleppo, she took with her all of these images which she had collected over the years. Waad now lives in London with her husband Hamza and their two daughters.

Waad al-Kateab

“For me, For Sama is not just a film, it’s the story of my life. Like so many other activists, I started filming the Syrian protests without any specific plans in mind. I could never have imagined where that would take me over the years. All the emotions we experienced – joy, the loss of our loved ones, love – and the crimes committed by the Assad regime against ordinary innocent people were unthinkable, unimaginable… From the beginning, I wanted to testify and show the humanity that endured around us, rather than the death and destruction that kept making the headlines. As a woman in a conservative neighbourhood in Aleppo, I was able to see and tell how the women and children of Aleppo lived, which would have been impossible for a man. This allowed me to show the daily life of Syrians who were still trying to lead a normal life whilst fighting for their freedom. At the same time, I continued to live my own life. I got married and had a child. I took on so many different roles: Waad the mother, Waad witnessing this war, Waad the journalist and Waad the director. I think that these different facets of my story make up the film’s strength. Although For Sama tells my story and that of my family, our experience is not unique. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have experienced the same thing and are still living in these conditions today. The dictator who committed these crimes is still in power and still kills innocent people. Our struggle for justice is still relevant. I felt a great responsibility to my city, to its people and to our friends: I had to tell their story so that it would never be forgotten and so that no one could distort the reality of our experience. For me, making this film was almost as difficult as the years spent in Aleppo. I had to relive those terrible moments over and over again. Fortunately, I had the chance to work with a great team of people who were interested in me, in my history and in Syria. This was particularly the case with Edward Watts, who made this film with me. He knew how to internalise the burden I carried in me. Together, we were able to draw on the complexity of my experience to bring you the story you see today.”

Edward Watts

For Sama is the most important film I’ve ever worked on. I was interested in the Syrian uprising from the very beginning, trying to tell the truth beyond the lies and propaganda. The reality of what happened in Syria is embodied in the courage, honesty and altruism of Waad, Hamza and Sama. They are extraordinary people. They are an example to all of us in these times of great turmoil. In my documentaries, I have always sought to highlight the humour and humanity we share with people living in desperate situations around the world. It is this truth that will save us, not the false truths that so many peddle today. We failed to stand with the Syrians as they protested for their freedom and were brutally crushed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. This has led to many problems, including the birth of the Islamic State, but also the rise of the far right, the refugee crisis and the normalisation of attacks on civilians in times of war. Through Waad’s story, the world can finally see what really happened, understand our tragic mistakes and hopefully make sure it never happens again. It was an honour and a privilege to make this film with her.”

Two brothers in pictures, a country’s heritage

Iran, rêves et dérives Reza et Manoocher Deghati Hoëbeke, octobre 2019 (published in French)

Publisher’s note

Reza and Manoocher Deghati, brothers and photojournalists who grew up in Iran in the 1950s and were forced into exile in the early 1980s, present their exclusive period archives for the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. In 1978, Reza and Manoocher Deghati covered the Islamic Revolution from its beginnings, and subsequently the hostage-taking at the American Embassy in Tehran. Their images were used extensively at the time in the international press: Newsweek, the Times, Lifeand Paris Match. The brothers were privileged witnesses to these events, ceaselessly documenting the riots, the violent repressions, but also the hopes of a changing Iranian society.

Their work gives a face to the Iranian people damaged by an Islamic Republic that has not kept the promise of much-anticipated peace.

Reza, a famous photojournalist, has travelled the world since leaving Iran in 1981. His images have been broadcast in the international media (National Geographic, Time Magazine, Newsweek, El País, Paris Match, Geo…), but also in the form of books, exhibitions and documentaries. He has been a photographer since his teens and was marked by his experience as a political prisoner when he was a student. The Iranian revolution revealed his skills as a photojournalist. From 1983, alongside this work, he began devoting himself to the informal visual education of young people and women around the world and created various associations. As a regular contributor to the National Geographic Society since 1991, and a senior fellow of the Ashoka Foundation, he has received numerous awards, including the World Press Photo, the Infinity Award, and the Knight’s Medal of the National Order of Merit.

A citizen of the world, Manoocher Deghatihas lived in more than 12 countries on 4 continents. He has been a photojournalist for international photo agencies and magazines such as Agence France Presse, Sipa, Black Star, Times, Newsweek. After studying film in Rome, he returned to Iran to witness the revolution. From 1987 to 1990, he was the head of the photo department for Agence France Presse in Central America. Returning to the Middle East in 1990, he covered similar political and social issues. Injured by an Israeli sniper in Ramallah, he was transferred to Paris where he remained for 18 months at the Invalides military hospital. In 2011, he created the new Middle East photography department for the Associated Press. He has received a number of awards including the World Press Photo award, and now works for major magazines such as National Geographic. He lives in Italy, where he also runs workshops.

Reza illustrated the 8thissue of the Humanitarian Alternatives magazine, and gave us an exclusive interview:

In the closed door of Eastern Ghouta

Abdulmonam Eassa was born in Damascus in 1995. Until early 2018 he was based in Hammouria, Eastern Ghouta, in the agricultural countryside near Damascus, 13 km north-east of the capital. When the war broke out in 2011, he was forced to quit his studies. In 2013, the many crimes committed by the Syrian army he witnessed motivated him to start his activity of photojournalist, along with some of his friends, to cover the near-daily airstrikes, the deaths of civilians and the massacres by the Syrian government forces and supported by the Russian air force in their fight “against terrorism”. Their main goal was to share with the world the reality of what happened in Syria that foreign journalist could not cover, as they were not allowed to enter the area under siege by the government forces: the Syrian government had blocked the access for foreign medias since 2011, in order to hide what was happening in the country.

At the end of March 2018, after a period of terror and bombing during which hundreds of innocent civilians were killed, an agreement was reached between rebel fighters and the Syrian government leading to the forced displacements of civilians to the north of Syria. Abdulmonam was forced to leave his hometown. Once he arrived in the north, the situation being unbearable, he decided to cross the Turkish border. After several months of travel, he managed to get to Paris where he was able to apply for asylum.

Photojournalism has become Abdulmonam’s passion. What had started as a self-taught activity has led him to be published in the New York Times, Time, The Guardian and the Washington Post. He has worked for the Agence France Presse (AFP) and has won the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Prix Visa d’Or Humanitaire2019 award.

About Eastern Ghouta

Eastern Ghouta was one of the first regions to participate in the peaceful uprising in Syria in early 2011. The regime lost control of the region in late 2012. Almost two thirds of al-Ghouta were held by the opposition and besieged by the regime for more than five years. Eastern Ghouta is considered to be one of the regions that has witnessed the most horrific attacks by the Syrian regime. Before 2011, the population was 1.2 million. In March 2018, there were only 400,000.

Syrian civilians walked alongside a completely destroyed four-story building following shelling by the Syrian government in the town of Ain-Taram, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, on 17 July 2017.

Volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defence (known as the White Helmets) dig a girl out of the rubble following an air strike on Hamouria, in the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, on January 9, 2018.

Two Syrian sisters run across the rubble to embrace after finding each other alive following an air strike on Hamouria, in the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, on January 9, 2018. Air strikes and artillery fire killed dozens of civilians in the besieged rebel enclave, targeted by near-daily regime bombardments.

A picture taken on February  9, 2018, shows a bandaged Syrian boy sitting in a clinic between two young people. He was injured in reported regime air strikes in the town of Arbin.

A Syrian man grieves over the death of his son following a reported air strike in the rebel-controlled town of Arbin, in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on December 3, 2017. A wave of Syrian air strikes killed at least 19 civilians and wounded dozens across the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian civil defence volunteers pray over the body of a victim who died in a building collapse following a reported regime bombardment in Haza, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on February 26, 2018.

Volunteers from the Syrian civil defence help a man in Hamouria during Syrian government shelling on rebel-held areas in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 6, 2018. Heavy air strikes and clashes shook the rebel enclave, as France and Britain called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the escalating violence.

Syrians work inside a workshop producing fuel and gas from plastic waste materials in the town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, 15 April 2017.

Syrian civilians and rebel fighters prepare to embark aboard buses during the evacuation from the town of Arbin in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 25, 2018.

A Syrian woman and child walk down a destroyed street as civilians and rebels prepare to evacuate one of the few remaining rebel-held pockets in Arbin, in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 24, 2018.

The unhoped-for end to the siege

A city under siege is nothing but a huge prison, trapping you and your loved ones inside without any possibility of leaving.

The only escape is to take refuge in your dreams and memories, but this is only temporary – every time reality comes rushing back and drags you down the hole of everyday horrors and suffering. Sounds of shelling, airstrikes, the threat of death that follows you everywhere you go, starvation, freezing weather, skyrocketing prices and endless losses.

Until March 2018, airstrikes were hitting the villages of Eastern Ghouta on a daily basis, a terrorizing and destructive rate that had not been seen throughout the years of the siege – since 2013.

In under 60 days, the landscape of the cities and villages changed completely with the destruction of mosques, hospitals and schools. The shelling was a form of collective punishment for everyone living under the siege, and a lesson for other rebellious neighbourhoods and cities. During this period, innocent people could not leave the shelters to secure their daily needs because of their deep fear from the constant shelling. Some died in shelters trying to protect themselves.

The little pocket of Eastern Ghouta that was under the control of opposition brigades and some Islamist factions was reason enough for the Syrian regime to mobilise its huge military apparatus – supported by Russian air strikes – to kill thousands of innocent civilians using all kinds of munitions. In March 2018, a large part of fighters and civilians were evacuated to Northern Syria, after an unfair deal that displaced nearly 70,000 residents from their homes and lands.

To read the article in PDF click here.

ISBN of the article (HTML): 978-2-37704-606-5 

HIV/AIDS: may our struggle not become undetectable

F. Thune

Florence Thune • Directrice générale de Sidaction

Despite scientific research, nearly 800,000 people still die from HIV and 1.7 million others are newly infected each year across the world. Allocating financial resources to this struggle is therefore still a need, as the challenge is to maintain more than 37 million people in care throughout their lives. But because HIV infection is also a powerful indicator of inequality, the response to it must revolve around new alliances between NGOs to pursue a highly political fight. Continue reading

Environmental health at Médecins du Monde: from the emergence to the structuring of a struggle

A. Fossier-Heckmann

H. Tiffou

Astrid Fossier-Heckmann et Hugo Tiffou • Groupe santé-environnement de Médecins du Monde

Linking environment and health is not obvious for many humanitarian NGOs. Médecins du Monde has managed to make this theme one of its priorities. A look at a fight that, backed up by the right to health, could join forces with the fight against the effects of climate change. Continue reading

World demographic prospects: between certainties and uncertainties

G. Pison

Gilles Pison • Chercheur associé à l’Institut national d’études démographiques (Ined), rédacteur en chef de la revue Population et Sociétés

To open this “Focus”, Gilles Pison offers us an overall vision based on past developments to help us to better understand those to come. While the world’s population should continue to rise to reach 8 billion by 2023, its growth rate is decreasing. It should continue to regress until the world’s population virtually stabilises at some 11 billion people within a century. One major demographic change expected is Africa’s exploding population, which could quadruple to reach more than 4 billion in 2100. Continue reading

Demographics in the service of Universal Health Coverage: examples in West Africa

V. Ridde

E. Bonnet

K. Kadio

S. Louart

M. de Allegri


Valéry Ridde • Population and Development Centre (CEPED)
Emmanuel Bonnet • Unité Mixte Internationale Résiliences
Kadidiatou Kadio • Institute for Health Science Research (IRSS, Burkina Faso)
Sarah Louart • University of Lille (France)
Manuela De Allegri • Heidelberg Institute of Global Health (Germany)

Health interventions typically favour pregnant women and children under 5 years of age. A prism that does not take into account other ever-growing vulnerable populations: the indigents and the elderly. The authors demonstrate here how the proper use of tools and demographic data would provide more relevant targeting.
Continue reading