Third Issue – November 2016


Forced migrations: a necessary humaneness

This editorial – and more broadly the theme of this new edition – encourages us to look further ahead; it appeals to our common responsibility to shed light on this situation, to add colour and different shades to a story that is becoming more and more grey. [Read more]


World Humanitarian Summit: a lost opportunity?

Antonio Donini delivers here a more subtle analysis, to be true, slightly less disenchanted, but redoubtably argumented. Mentioning at the same time the very recent United Nations summit relating to migrants, the latter being the main theme of this new issue, major cause for which there is unfortunately so little to rejoice about, the author brings forward the hidden stake of the actual humanitarian system: its institutional reform. [Read more]

Engaging with National Authorities: Médecins Sans Frontières’s experience in Guinea during the Ebola epidemic

The Ebola epidemic continues to be instructive. This was indeed the conclusion of the “Focus” on this subject in our inaugural issue: the magnitude of this unprecedented crisis, its failures and successes, required that there were lessons to be learned. [Read more]


Vivid symbol of the migratory crisis, the situation of refugee camps in the north of France gives way to many erroneous representations. Angélique Muller and Michaël Neuman bring forward in this article a return of experience relating to the action led by MSF within an aid project for migrants in the city of Grande- Synthe [editor’s note: located next to Dunkirk]. Useful lessons, very close to the field and to the “improbable coalition of actors” that, each day, demonstrates tangible solidarity. [Read more]

The latest report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) paints a damning picture of the situation of migrants around the world. It reinforces the observers’ view that the migrant crisis in Europe is only the tip of the iceberg of a global phenomenon and almost systematic repressive policies. As a recognised specialist, Idil Atak answered the questions of Canadian researcher Yvan Conoir before the latter shed light on the UNHCR’s doctrine and actions regarding the detention/retention of migrants, especially minors. [Read more]

A number of crises linked to forced migration are developing throughout the world, “in the shadow of the humanitarian centres of gravity that are the Syrian crisis and its consequences in Europe”, to quote the two authors, members of Solidarités International. Following the parallel contexts of Nigeria and Myanmar, where the French NGO is operating alongside displaced persons, Marie-Alice Torré and Thierry Benlahsen deliver a reflection midway between criticism and self-criticism, which emerges from the field and extends to the decision making bodies. [Read more]

In the midst of upheavals in Central Africa, and far removed from the refugee crisis in Europe, Cameroon, like numerous countries in the Global South, is undergoing complex migratory issues. Achille Valery Mengo, a privileged observer familiar with the local associative landscape, sheds light on this lesser known humanitarian crisis, highlighting the difficulties for international actors and campaigning for the greater recognition of local actors who are capable of providing their expertise. [Read more]

With the expression “climate refugees” two recurrent headlines are brought together: migrants and climate change. They converge to bring the issue of forced population movements to a level never attained and recall, concerning these migrants of a new type, the question of their legal recognition. [Read more]

The refugee crisis in Europe, and more generally, the movement of people throughout the world, is becoming one of the century’s main questions. It will not be resolved if deciders, public opinion and NGOS do not project themselves to anticipate the developments to come. Michel Maietta attempts to forecast these developments in the following article, reporting on research from IARAN, a new network of analysts working from Yangon to Dakar and covering five major regions of the globe. [Read more]


Humanitarian ethics and international relations: Contradictions or (re)conciliations?

Virginie Troit attempts here to clear the way for ethics in humanitarian action. In doing so, the author – general delegate to the French Red Cross Fund – considers both the context of international relations and the demands of humanitarian practices. Two constraints that, quite often, prevent NGOs from giving ethics the place that undoubtedly must be theirs. [Read more]


A look at NGOs in China

As is the case for a number of issues, simplification is commonplace when describing Chinese society. The field of organizations is not exempt from this, which often leads some to deny the very idea of non-governmental organizations in a country which is perceived as centralised and suspicious about anything that could be in competition with the State. Verena Richardier helps us to enter into the complexity of Chinese civil society, the better to understand the place occupied by NGOs. [Read more]


Corruption: a challenge that doesn’t escape the humanitarian sector

Corruption. A taboo word thought to be associated with public contracts, political dealings, unscrupulous businesses, and mafia clans. Yet humanitarian agencies often find themselves having to grapple with corruption in the fragile and destabilized countries where they deliver aid. [Read more]


Neither safe nor sound: unaccompanied children in the North of France

In the European refugee and migrant’s crisis, one in three people seeking for refuge is a child. Among these children, there are unaccompanied children. There is no existing census of these children. Due to their great mobility, numbers are constantly evolving. We estimate that they are around 500, permanently present on the entire Channel coastline since the beginning of 2016. [Read more]



The never-ending reform of the United Nations

Last September Humanitarian Alternatives attended the presentation of the book (only available in English) “Reforming the UN: A Chronology” by Joachim Müller published in June 2016. (...) Described as “a dictionary” by John Burley, the book, details reform initiatives from enlarging the Security Council to establishing mechanisms to protect Human Rights, passing through improving aid efficiency, strengthening peacekeeping, approving the Sustainable Development Goals and reforming UN management practices. [Read more]

A Story of Humanitarian Aid


Too many segmented visions hide the multifaceted reality of humanitarian aid, despite being a crucial factor for survival, care and restoring rights and dignity of tens of millions of people, and a space of commitment of hundreds of thousand others. To better understand its issues, specificities and dynamics, we must first reexamine its genealogy. And then, show the successive emergences, the founding principles, the diversity of actors, and the continuity of mutations. [Read more]

Saving lives and staying alive


Experienced as being inherent to the humanitarian adventure, exposure to risk tends to be framed by standards, procedures and indicators developed by risk management professionals. This evolution raises many questions, including at MSF. Is insecurity really rising as it is claimed by specialists? Can we analyze and prevent risk in a significant way? [Read more]

Long live philanthropy!



Why is philanthropy vital? To which emergencies is it confronted? How to act? With whom? Crises succeed each other, States no longer have the means required to fulfill their ambitions, and lives, disrupted by the sudden evolution of our societies, face a multitude of hazards. Philanthropy is one of the positive responses to this world that neglects humanity.  [Read more]

Humanitarian Transition in Senegal


The first volume of the collection ‘Humanitarian aid’s future’ is dedicated to the Humanitarian transition in Senegal. It is the outcome of discussions between academics, non-governmental actors, and institutional stakeholders, gathered in Dakar on November 5th and 6th 2014 by the French Red Cross Fund, to discuss collectively about their practices, their underlying principles and other issues relating to humanitarian aid. [Read more]

Rosette, for the Example


Threatened with arrest in France, Rosette Wolczak crossed the Swiss border on September 24th 1943. Due to her age and according to the federal legislation, this Jewish teenager had to be welcomed. But on October 16th, she is deported for disciplinary reasons and for an alleged affront to public decency. Arrested by the Germans, she is deported to Auschwitz. She will never return. What happened in Geneva? What did she exactly do that was so serious for her to be sent back to France where Germans were multiplying arrests? [Read more]

The Metamorphosis of our Public Institutions


The position defended in this book is to assert that belief in the operating power of science and of non-controversial reason, once effective, is now exhausted. Is it possible to reform our public institutions? The answer here is no, because their sap is dried up. But new sprouts, able to welcome the structural and structuring daily uncertainty, appear at the heart of our society, and announce its shift to a more open world, allowing to regain confidence in the future. [Read more].


CULTURE - Tribune

Greece is an example of solidarity for Europe!

Après vingt ans d’engagement pour la défense des réfugiés dans le monde, la cantatrice Barbara Hendricks a été nommée ambassadrice honoraire à vie du Haut-Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés, un titre unique dans l’histoire de l’institution. En 1991 et en 1993, durant la guerre en ex-Yougoslavie, elle a donné deux concerts de solidarité à Sarajevo et à Dubrovnik. En 1998, elle crée la Fondation Barbara Hendricks pour la Paix et la Réconciliation, afin de prolonger son combat pour la prévention des conflits. [Read more].

Translators :

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

Acknowledgements :

Nicolas Beaumont • Jason deCaires Taylor • Fay Guerry • Laethicia Lamotte (Handicap international) • Pauline Restoux/Olivier Vercherand (In medias res) • Gloria Sepúlveda (Museo Atlantico) • Philip Wade • Juliette Chevalier/ Émilie Monod (UNICEF France), The Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN), Oversees Development Institute (ODI) • Louise Aubin, Madeline Garlick et Marie Huberlant du UNHCR (Genève).