Blog Post #6

ccHumanitarian aid from the surface seems very straightforward and simple. Go to nations in need and help civilians survive the current crisis in their country. Take the Rwandan genocide for example, from the outside it just looked like humanitarian aid organizations like the Red Cross come in and help wounded, innocent civilians. On the inside of humanitarian aid it is a very difficult process, there are so many factors that occur and decisions to be made. Working in humanitarian aid is a struggle between having morals and acting ethically versus not acting ethically and morally, but instead for other unjust motives. While reading Linda Polman’s, Crisis Caravan, many points were brought up regarding the internal operations and functions of humanitarian aid. Polman brought up the point that many humanitarian aid organizations get contract fever, the concept of MONGOs, humanitarian aid is used as a weapon of war, and to ask questions.
Gaining contracts is when donor governments donate funds to a particular aid organization. The more donations an organization gets, the more prepared and well equipped they will be to help disaster victims. The term contract fever refers to the frenzy of multiple organizations trying to obtain as many contracts from donor governments as possible. That means that organizations in Goma, for example, during the Rwandan genocide would exploit the tragedies, using the media, to gain contracts. “Victims are universal and stripped of anything that might frighten off donors, such as political convictions or tainted pasts.” “To prevent donors from falling prey to an I’ve-seen-it-before syndrome, aid workers and journalists often reach for superlatives.”red cross This, to some extent, is makes sense because organizations need money to be able to help disaster victims. At the same time, exploiting these victims to the highest extent to get attention from donating governments is also very wrong. MONGO stands for “My Own NGO”. This type of organization was created because people believe that they can do a better job than the current humanitarian aid organizations present now. MONGOs think that they can do it cheaply and more efficiently than aid organizations. To me it seems like they do not know the real challenges that these organizations face. They just think that it is a simple, go to the country in need and help the victims, when really it is a lot more complex and dangerous than that. Another point made by Polman is that aid is used as a weapon of war as well. By this, she means that the enemies in a crisis area are essentially stealing human aid equipment and supplies to treat their wounded soldiers, which potentially prolongs the war.
greenpeaceAlso these enemy groups are exploiting human aid organizations and using them for everything they are worth. “Warlords and regimes deluge INGOs with taxes, often invented on the spot: import duties on aid supplies, income taxes, road taxes, and permits for cars and trucks. The proceeds go straight to their war chests.” Warlords use this to their advantage because they know that these organizations get their money through donor governments. The last point she makes is for people to ask questions. Ask whether doing something is always better than doing nothing at all. Polman also mentions that, “Aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa.” By this she means that these humanitarian aid organizations are businesses designed to help in crisis zones. Essentially all organizations are businesses, just because aid organizations focus of humanitarian work and efforts, doesn’t mean that they do not conduct business. They conduct business with media outlets and even warlords of crisis areas. Though we would like to think that most of these organization heads help out of the goodness of their hearts, which some do, there is also an industry for humanitarian aid and people take advantage of that.

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