How do humanitarian aid workers think and act?
This work focuses on how humanitarian organisations operate, including their members, affiliations, messages, practices and cultures. Aid to refugee, displaced, deported, exiled and interned populations plays a central role in humanitarian action both now and in the past. What types of aid are provided to internees and displaced persons? What kinds of obstacles and dilemmas does it face? What sorts of practical, political and ethical questions are raised by the participation of humanitarian organisations in population displacement and internment policies?
Based on the example of the hospital in Moïssala, Chad, the two authors reflect on the management of pain in children at Médecins Sans Frontières. This article was first published on March 25th 2022 in the journal Alternatives Humanitaires.
Reconstructing Lives was published in January 2022 by Manchester University Press. The book is the result of extensive fieldwork, in collaboration with the Crash. Here is the presentation of the book and its contents, as well as a short introductory video.
This article was first released in the 18th volume of the Humanitarian Alternatives magazine. Designed to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in a Kenyan district, a Médecins Sans Frontières project successfully exceeded the “90-90-90” target set by UNAIDS. A look back on the results that the authors of this article - Pierre Mendiharat, Deputy director of operations at MSF France and Léon Salumu Luzinga, Program manager at MSF France, interviewed by Elba Rahmouni - believe are encouraging but by no means a guarantee that the epidemic will be over by 2030.
Over the last few years, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Syria have been places where situations of extreme violence took place. As witnesses and investigators of such, the authors of this book shed light on three key-moments that marked these tragic episodes: the investigation, the intervention of emergency relief teams and the implementation of justice procedures leading to judgement.
The case study "MSF and the Rohingya 1992 - 2014" brings to light two decades of MSF advocacy activities as part of its humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya people in Bangladesh and Myanmar and explores the questions and dilemmas the organisation was confronted with surrounding speaking out.
On the 31st January, a symposium was held at Sciences Po in support of Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, researchers at Sciences Po's Center for International Research (CERI) who were arrested in Iran on June 5, 2019. Roland Marchal was released on 20th March 2020 in exchange for an Iranian engineer detained in France. On 6th May Fariba Adelkhah was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for "propaganda against the political system of the Islamic Republic, and collusion to undermine national security". The researcher was offered conditional release on condition that she terminates her research, but she refused.
The symposium brought together diplomats, journalists, humanitarians and researchers, with the aim of "nourishing reflection about prisoners and hostages, from a political, legal and ethical point of view". Fabrice Weissman presented the experience of Médecins Sans Frontières in the face of kidnappings.
Interview by Helai Hosseini. A first version was published on the website of the MSF France association on 31 July 2020.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, voices have risen within MSF denouncing the racist and discriminatory nature of our organization. Equal opportunity, they say, is not offered to all our employees. Founded in France in the early 70s by a handful of doctors and journalists, the organization has grown and become international, now employing over 46,000 people around the world, nearly 39,000 of whom are recruited locally. How has MSF’s policy towards its personnel evolved down the years? What is currently being done to fight inequalities? Here is Jean Hervé Bradol’s take on the major phases that have marked MSF’s transformation and the ways in which discussions are engaged today.
First Published December 1, 1999 - Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ) - Volume 28 Issue 1.
This article begins with a look at the role played by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since its inception in 1971, and then looks at the challenges facing MSF today. It focuses on the confusion of humanitarian and political roles and on the goals MSF has laid out for itself to address this confusion. Humanitarian aid has become the favored response of governments to political crises, and governments have increasingly turned to NGOs to carry out their policies. In turn, NGOs have become increasingly dependent on governments for financial support. These changes have politicized aid delivery and made it difficult for NGOs to maintain their independence. In addition, as the number of NGOs increases and their activities become more specialized, there are pressures toward institutionalization and bureaucratization. To respond to these challenges, MSF has identified several goals, including maintaining organizational independence and flexibility and avoiding bureaucratization.
This article discusses the policy of absolute secrecy on abductions adopted by aid organisations. It argues that the information blackout on past and current cases is to a large extent a function of the growing role of private security companies in the aid sector, which promote a ‘pay, don’t say’ policy as a default option, whatever the situation. The article contends that secrecy is as much an impediment to resolving current cases as it is to preventing and managing future ones. It suggests abandoning the policy of strict confidentiality in all circumstances – a policy that is as dangerous as it is easy to apply – in favour of a more nuanced and challenging approach determining how much to publicise ongoing and past cases for each audience, always keeping in mind the interests of current and potential hostages.