Xavier Crombé was Director of Studies at MSF-Crash from 2005 to 2008. He is currently working at the Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) of MSF in Switzerland to publish a collective essay dealing with issues related to violence in healthcare facilities. He is also teaching humanitarian and migration issues at Sciences Po Paris.
This article seeks to document and analyse violence affecting the provision of healthcare by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its intended beneficiaries in the early stage of the current civil war in South Sudan. Most NGO accounts and quantitative studies of violent attacks on healthcare tend to limit interpretation of their prime motives to the violation of international norms and deprivation of access to health services. Instead, we provide a detailed narrative, which contextualises violent incidents affecting healthcare, with regard for the dynamics of conflict in South Sudan as well as MSF’s operational decisions, and which combines and contrasts institutional and academic sources with direct testimonies from local MSF personnel and other residents. This approach offers greater insight not only into the circumstances and logics of violence but also into the concrete ways in which healthcare practices adapt in the face of attacks and how these may reveal and put to the test the reciprocal expectations binding international and local health practitioners in crisis situations.
Though independence and innovation are both highly valued concepts, Xavier Crombé questions in this article - thanks to MSF's experiences in Niger in 2005 - the possible interactions between them.
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.
This Cahier du CRASH by Xavier Crombé combines a study of the experience and positions of MSF vis-à-vis occupation contexts since the 1980s, and the minutes of a talk organised by the 'Fondation MSF' in January 2006 on "Humanitarian action in situations of occupation".
This article questions the independence of humanitarian action in Afghanistan, at a time when aid initiatives from military forces blurs differences, and when NGOs financed mostly by institutional funding risk becoming mere "implementing partners" of an aid policy driven by a political agenda.