Fifth Issue – July 2017


The challenges of humanitarian transition in Africa

Par Virginie Troit and Jean-François Mattei - Modern humanitarian aid took shape and formulated its vision on European battlefields with the creation of the Red Cross. Almost a century later, in the 1960s, international aid, which was finishing its mission of European reconstruction, turned to Africa and the Third World. [Read more]


Humanitarian aid as a deterrent in Greece

By Arjun 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. [Read more]

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

By Franck Esnée and Michaël 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. [Read more]


Sub-Saharan Africa: worrying clouds on the horizon

By Serge Michailof - Having long been condemned to pessimism, Africa has unquestionably picked itself up, confronting considerable challenges – such as the recent Ebola crisis –, displaying encouraging economic growth and exporting its numerous talents. On the threshold of the 21st century, a wave of Afro-optimism gradually developed. Did we go too far, too quickly down this road? This is the theory of Serge Michailof, economist, former top level manager at the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD), venturing a parallel with Afghanistan, another “humanitarian land” in the 1980s. Tending more towards Afro-realism, the author invites us to take stock of the perils which the continent will have to face, as well as the means it has at it disposal to overcome them. [Read more]

Senegal: The difficulty for NGOs to gain independence from the State

By Sadio Ba Gning and Kelly Poulet - Taking the example of Congad, the Council of Non-Governmental Organisations for Development Support in Senegal, two young researchers help us to understand the difficulties that African NGOs encounter in trying to gain independence from the State. [Read more]

The impact of international proceedings for bypassing the State: the example of Madagascar

Par Christiane Rafidinarivo - Madagascar was severely hit by a protracted political and diplomatic crisis triggered by the 2009 military coup. The transitional government, in power until 2014, was unable to prevent the State from being bypassed and its humanitarian sovereignty from being transferred to international actors. This has done nothing to improve the situation of a country which is among the world’s Least Advanced, ranked the third most vulnerable to climate hazards, behind Bangladesh and India (and the first in Africa) and the second most food-insecure in 2014. Christiane Rafidinarivo explains the mechanisms put in place by these actors between 2009 and 2014, and which are still applied today. She provides a comparative analysis in order to draw political and diplomatic lessons for African countries… [Read more]


The ethics of care versus humanitarian exceptionalism

By Arnaud Dandoy - What if we say that humanitarian workers themselves arouse the hostility they sometimes face because of the symbolic and socially dominant relationships they maintain with their local personnel? This is the hypothesis, drawn from his own study, that Arnaud Dandoy, doctor of criminology, has developed here. While the author praises the virtues of the ethics of care over those of Kantian ethics, this is not a basic philosophical exercise, buta prerequisite for a better understanding of the widening gap between humanitarian workers and local populations. [Read more]


« Afghan Stories: Waiting for Hope » by Sandra Calligaro

Presentation of a selection of her last project, Afghan Stories : Waiting for Hope, produced in collaboration with Action against Hunger and ECHO. Apart from the pictures, it includes testimonies of afghan-displaced populations. [Read more]



Interview with Jonathan Littell “Barbarity is well shared: no religion exerts a monopoly over it”

Jonathan Littell was born in 1967 in New York. Brought up in France, he entered humanitarian aid in 1993 and spent seven years on the field with Action against Hunger, mainly in Bosnia, Chechnya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. His novel Les Bienveillantes (The Kindly Ones) published in 2006, was awarded the same year the French Goncourt literary prize, since followed by several essays and reports in areas of conflict. Wrong Elements, a documentary released in April 2017, the subject of which is child soldiers, is his first movie .[Read more]


Interview with Marc Le Pape : “Chronicle of a genocide”

As sociologist, Marc Le Pape has conducted research in Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Central Africa. His recent work focuses on the conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa. He has co-edited several books like Côte d’Ivoire, l’année terrible 1999-2000 (with Claudine Vidal, Karthala, 2003), Crises extrêmes (with Johanna Siméant and Claudine Vidal, La Découverte, 2006), and with Médecins Sans Frontières, Une guerre contre les civils. Réflexions sur les pratiques humanitaires au Congo-Brazzaville, 1998-2000 (with Pierre Salignon, Karthala, 2001). Marc Le Pape was a researcher at the CNRS, and is currently an associate researcher at the Ehess (Centre for African Studies). He has just published, with Jean-Hervé Bradol of Crash (Centre of reflection on humanitarian action and knowledge) a book reflecting on the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, drawing from the archives of Médecins Sans Frontières. [Read more]

Development aid in 350 words

With its 350 entries, this dictionary of development, in the ironic way of the stereotypes from Gustave Flaubert, proposes to go through the words and commonplaces of development policies in Africa. The author, practitioner of development projects, regularly publishes in specialized journals showing the poverty of the practical thinking about development. [Read more]

In times of remote-control war


By Philippe Ryfman -  The return to total war is already having major consequences on the international system of humanitarian aid. Yet the probability of the generalisation, on the short or medium term, of weapons from the “robolution”, which increasingly eliminate the human factor, adds an extra dimension or even a yawning gulf to the issue. [Read more]

Interview with Jérôme Larché: Is humanitarianism on the decline?


Jérôme Larché is an intensive care intern working for over 30 years in the humanitarian field. His assignment with the NGO, Médecins du Monde, landed him in the midst of numerous conflicts, natural disasters, and dangerous situations, where violence and corruption were his daily lot. As a researcher associated with the Foundation for Strategic Research and the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid (OCCAH), Jérôme Larché expounded his thoughts in a book, with a clear-cut title immediately attracting our attention at Humanitarian Alternatives. We went to meet him .[Read more]

A guide to fight against health inequalities


By Pierre Micheletti - The high-level conference on public health held in France in January 2016 under the auspices of the Prime Minister, aimed to emphasize the essential preconditions for the success of any new health law, including training health professionals on the Indexes of Social Health. The instigators of this publication aim to contribute to meeting this challenge and perpetuate dynamics initiated a decade ago.   [Read more]

Tribute to Stanley Greene

To choose a picture taken by Stanley Greene to illustrate this new issue was a necessity. While we were finalising the summary, one of the greatest war reporters passed away. Born a few years after the end of the Second World War, Stanley Greene was a member of the Black Panthers, an objector to the Vietnam War, before immersing himself into violence – camera in hand. At the beginning of the 1990s, he documented the fall of the Soviet Union, the wars of Chechnya, Rwanda and Darfur and while staying in Chad a contaminated razor blade infected him with hepatitis C. [Read more]

Translators :

Mandy Duret • Fay Guerry • Alain Johnson • Juliet Powys • Benjamin Richardier

Acknowledgements :

Aurélie Baumel (MSF) • Fay Guerry • Laethicia Lamotte (Handicap International) • Pauline Restoux/Olivier Vercherand (In medias res) • Philip Wade • Koren Wolman-Tardy