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Humanitarian Aid Indicted,
This review is from: The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid? (Hardcover)
Only a few books over the last decade have noted adverse results of humanitarian aid. Here now is the most extensive and disturbing catalogue by a Dutch author who spent 15 years reporting from war zones for European media.
The author intends to provoke soul-searching by the "humanitarian industry" of the western world. In a long series of disturbing anecdotes, she demonstrates that humanitarian projects have increased famine and lengthened wars. Oxfam, Bob Geldorf's Band Aid, Bill and Melinda Gates, Madeline Albright, the International Red Cross--no one escapes this book's indictment. Anonymous aid workers are derided for living in a style unimaginable to the local population with Land Cruisers, drivers, interpreters, expensive meals and exploitation of children. "Wherever aid workers go, prostitution instantly soars." Journalists come off no better, depicted as co-conspirators overeager to glorify and propagandize the aid effort, while averting their eyes from deleterious effects.
Equally frank is the "Aidspeak" chapter in the appendix. While the book is primarily focused on Africa, this section explains why those of us concerned with the 1999 Kosovo war observed the KLA coercing Albanians to leave Kosovo. Refugees must be outside their home countries to command major international aid. Of course, there were other tactical and propaganda reasons as well. And that is the shocking story this book details--the unintended but crucial assistance by humanitarian organizations that helps violent actors achieve their goals. "If you use enough violence, aid will arrive, and if you use even more violence, even more aid will arrive."
It's not pleasant to learn how badly our efforts to help may turn out, but closing our eyes is no solution.
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Initial post: Sep 29, 2010 10:33:17 PM PDT
Tamza K says:
A comment by a local aid worker during the initial stages of the floods in Pakistan: (this is someone who knows from the inside) "NGOs have decended on Pakistan each looking for their piece of the action."
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