Twenty years after the charity concerts for the Sahel Nigerien politicians, institutional donors, aid agencies and humanitarian organisations clashed on the nature and substance of the crisis affecting Niger in 2005. Identifying the causes of, and adequate responses to, the situation also gave rise to profound disagreements. Having set up their most ambitious emergency nutrition programme to date, Médecins Sans Frontières found itself at the forefront of these controversies.
For the past several months, news about food shortages and famines affecting large segments of the East African population have been fueling donation appeals from major public and private aid organizations.
This study sheds light on the mechanisms producing the official data used by humanitarian aid decision makers. It views Early Warning Systems (EWS) as tools that facilitate consensus between the decision-makers involved in the allocation of food aid, enabling them to reach institutional agreements.
Fabrice Weissman highlights the political factors at work behind the threat of famine - which, though very real, cannot be fully explained by natural causes - and casts a critical eye on the relief system, as well.
As the USA announces its decision to suspend food aid to North Korea - one of the largest beneficiaries of global food aid - Fiona Terry reveals the true political issues behind the decision, and reminds us of how "humanitarian" assistance is used to bolster one of the planet's most oppressive regimes.
« Never again »: in the wake of the second World War, the terror caused by the Holocaust led the community of states to condemn genocide as a crime and to create a new international organization, the United Nations. And yet, half a century later, the international community did nothing to prevent the first undeniable genocide since that of the Jews: it let the massacre of the Rwandan Tutsis and merely sent humanitarian aid, even though it was nearly over.