Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarian aid organizations are set up with the intentions of rendering aid in times of need -whether it is from wars or natural disasters.  Unfortunately, most of the time, in instances when responding to aid as a result of war, it seems that the humanitarians rush into the process without first assessing the full scope of the situation.  The intended recipients of aid sometimes face negative consequences that outweigh the benefits.

As discussed in War Games, there are many outside factors that effect when, where, and what form of aid is given.  There are instances where the government slants the view of the media by basically putting blinders on them and only allowing them to zero in on one particular thing; essentially creating a false need of aid. In other instances, regimes determine where the aid is given, in what form, and how much.  Basically, putting restrictions on the aid.  In my opinion, it seems as if the humanitarians believe they have control over the aid and where it goes but in actuality, they are really they are being led like sheep.

The humanitarians intend on helping the people in need but in actuality, they tend to react before assessing the consequences.  The benefits they intend to provide are greatly counteracted by the consequences.  In many situations regimes levy “taxes” that are funneled into their “war chests.”  Humanitarian aid organizations see this as a necessary evil to provide aid and prevent unnecessary deaths.  However, the reality is that they are prolonging the suffering by allowing these “war chests” to grow. The result of funding these “war chests” is a prolonging of the war. Based on the readings from the book, the humanitarians do not benefit the intended beneficiaries. On the surface they do but in actuality they don’t because many of the camps are infused with refugee warriors that receive the aid and use it to get stronger. For example, in Goma, dealing with genocide in Rwanda between the Hutus and the Tutsi’s, the humanitarians were actually helping and aiding the proponents of the genocide. There are civilians mixed in with the refugee warriors and the regime government is the one benefiting.

Aid is intended to be gender neutral, but it isn’t. Young children end up being essentially prostituted to the media for the purpose of marketing campaigns, regardless of gender. Aid is sent in for the purpose of helping everyone however, it ends up getting funneled through other regimes before getting to the actual recipients. The regimes main purpose is to predominately help the males that fight for their cause.

The humanitarian aid is a business. This business involves the exchange of excessive amounts of money in many different forms. For instance: food, clothes, medicine, or currency backed by government donors and private donors. While the intent of these humanitarian aid organizations is good, the ripple effects can be unknowingly detrimental. The humanitarian aid organizations can be easily manipulated into provided aid that in turn benefits an unintended entity. In many instances, they in turn manipulate the media to report on only the positives and not the negative consequences that also occur.



Works Cited:

2012. Photograph. www.unmultimedia.orgWeb. 9 Jun 2013. <>.

Hall, Peter Christian . “”The Crisis Caravan’: Charity’s Road to Hell?.” The Huffington Post 11 OCT 2010, n. page. Web. 9 Jun. 2013.

Polman, Linda. War Games. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

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  1. Posted June 10, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Your “led like sheep” comment is biting but holds way too much truth: we want easy pathways to make ourselves feel like we are “good people” helping out the “downtrodden” and do not look deeply enough into exactly how aid is delivered and perceived.

    More depth in some of your observations would be welcome.

  2. Posted June 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Your last paragraph really captured in essence what I believe Polman was trying to get across in War Games. But I also liked that you outlined what exactly is being manipulated by these agencies’ “help”, including not just money, but food and etc. I also like your point about the media and how it is manipulated to make the humanitarian aid “business” look better.