Fourth Issue – March 2017


Regaining a sense 
of the humanitarian imperative

By Nathalie Herlemont-Zoritchak - "We must certainly look for more than the sinister litany of figures in this “Syrian crisis”, a shameful conflict hidden behind minimising rhetoric." [Read more]


Yemen: a conflict behind closed doors

François Frison-Roche helps us to understand the causes and origins of the conflict 
in Yemen in the hope of saving it from the oblivion into
which it is sinking.  [Read more]


Entretiens avec: Laure Stephan • Le Monde; Jean-Hervé Bradol • Crash-Médecins sans Frontières; Matthieu Rey • CNRS

Apart from the protagonists of the Syrian conflict, three categories of actors and observers have formed a more or less tacit alliance: humanitarians, researchers and journalists. We asked three personalities from their ranks, who were directly invested in these six years of war, to share the lessons learned and to look towards the future. An exciting long run interview that allows us to better understand the constraints of one and another and their indisputable complementarity. [Read more]

By hosting 1,500,000 Syrian refugees, Lebanon assumes its share of responsibility, maybe far beyond its capacities. Explaining the impact of this conflict on the “country of the cedar”, Kamel Mohanna also allows us to discover the action of Amel, the association he founded 38  years ago. [Read more]

Shaped by their bureaucratic habits and destabilised by the unexpected complexity of the conflict, international organisations and NGOs alike neglected the local level. They thus deprived themselves of vital forces, capabilities and knowledge that the Syrian people and their civil society could mobilise to alleviate the suffering of the population. Six years on, whilst the conflict is far from reaching an end, it is about time for the international aid community to be helped by the Syrians themselves. This is a conclusion developed by three members of the nascent Synaps network and that is both well backed by facts and figures and quite instructive. [Read more]

Sami Aoun engages here in a difficult exercise of geopolitical forecasting. First of all because in Syria, even more than in other contexts, facts speed up and multiple, sometimes secret, alliances, potentially volatile, can escape all expectations. Also because this conflict, loaded with a heavy emotional connotation, has some times displaced itself within the circle of its observers and researchers, ending up by provoking head on confrontations. But the exercise is compulsory if one wishes to dispose of elements on which to build a future reconstruction of the country and the region. [Read more]

What has been going on in Syria for the past six years is probably unprecedented since the Second World War. But this paroxystic conflict, which captures the attention of the entire international community –  but without triggering funds and actions – should not make us forget the massive humanitarian crises that are scattered around the planet. This is what Stephen O’Brien tells us during an exclusive interview he gave to the chief editor of Humanitarian Alternatives. An opportunity, also, to know a little more about the reform of the UN since the arrival of Antònio Guterres at its head. [Read more]


Challenges and dilemmas in the implementation
of ethical standards in humanitarian programmes

In this new article devoted to ethics, Gweanëlle Luc-Menichelli ploughs the furrow of an approach to humanitarianism that is respectful as possible of the populations. Establishing the link with the previous contributions she strives to confront even more the rules of ethics with their implementation. [Read more]


Children as agents of social and political change for water protection advocacy in post-conflict Colombia

At the end of 2016, Colombia – let’s hope so, definitely – turned its back on the conflict that opposed the government and the FARC for over 50 years. As often, restored peace unearths crucial problems. And in Colombia as elsewhere, water is one of those. [Read more]


Seeing Syria again

When Agnès Varraine-Leca arrived in Lebanon, in January 2016, five years had passed since the beginning of the war in Syria [...] 6,6 million Syrians were displaced inside the country and 4,6 million (i.e. half of Ireland’s population) had taken refuge in the neighbouring countries and all the way to Europe. In Lebanon, they represent a third of the population. For months and years most remain blocked in the country without any perspective of going back to Syria, living in increasingly precarious conditions. One year later, their situation hasn’t change. And as for seeing Syria again…[Read more]


The humanitarian economy: novlangue, pleonasm or oxymoron?

Is the humanitarian sector an industry, a market? How is its growth structured and how efficiently so for its beneficiaries? To what extent is economic analysis providing an unprecedented interpretative framework on international aid policies, organisations and individuals involved in the sector? And ultimately, how can the study of humanitarian crises in turn enhance economic considerations? While many books attempt to question the meaning or practicality of humanitarian action, Humanitarian economics complements the contemporary analyses of crises and the many challenges facing the aid sector using an innovative disciplinary approach. [Read more]

The borders of idealism? From third-worldism to “sans-frontiérisme”

In this particularly interesting and detailed study, Eleanor Davey traces the rise of the “sans-frontiériste” movement in France in general and, in view of this NGO’s dominant role, of “Médecins sans frontières” (MSF – Doctors without Borders) in particular, in terms of the development of “third-worldism”, by analysing how it was transformed and displaced by “sans-frontiérisme”. This displacement and reconfiguration arose, according to the author, from “a profound transformation of the ideological and intellectual paradigms in France” (p. 6–7), which took place not after but during the Cold War (p. 9). [Read more]

Translators :

Marc Duc • Mandy Duret • Fay Guerry • Sophie Jeangeorges • Alain Johnson • Juliet Powys • Benjamin Richardier

Acknowledgements :

Melissa Fleming/Anna Jefferys/ Nora Sturm (Nations unies/United Nations) • Fay Guerry • Laethicia Lamotte (Handicap International) • Pauline Restoux/Olivier Vercherand (In medias res) • Agnès Varraine- Leca • Aurore Van Vooren (Handicap International) • Philip Wade.