Humanitarian Aid Organizations: The Wrong Ways to Help People
Humanitarian aid is essentially aid or help to people in need of assistance. This includes people who are victims of famine and war, refugees, homeless, and victims of natural disasters. This help is generally short term assistance until a larger group comes in and lengthens the aid; usually these are government groups or other large institutions.
Humanitarian aid organizations may seem like an extremely helpful and useful tool in the battle to reducing suffering and saving lives, but their are some setbacks and problems with them. One huge and disturbing issue that Linda Polman discusses in her book is that too often aid is not given directly to the towns and people in need. Yes, some will go to these people and areas of distress, but a lot of the time money also goes to dictators/organizations/leaders who harm the people of there land. The money going to these people only fuels the issues the humanitarian organizations are trying to get rid of, as a tactic to sort of perpetuate the devastation in order to keep the aid organizations in business. This creates a big dilemma for countries and people in need, as well as the organizations that are not following this corrupt pattern. Countries that need this aid need help from moral and helpful organizations whose sole and main purpose is to help people in need, and rid their life of suffering. Not cause more suffering in order to gain more revenue or fame for their organization. Not only does this cause more of a divide between the leaders/wealthy of a country and the poor/needy/tragedy stricken people, but it enforces the notion that these people are not worth being more prosperous with well sustained lives. By exploiting people in need, these organizations and governments are making it impossible for them to live better lives, and void them of their basic human rights.
Another issue that Polman brings up is that media/journalists/organizations are using the people in need in order to gain more contracts, or funding for specific projects or areas in need from outside governments willing to donate. This is yet another example of the exploitation of people in need. By projecting the stories to the public, I assume the issues and people in need gain more national attention and therefore more money–but at what cost? The cost of using peoples disadvantages and devastation in order to gain a profit. This is not ethically responsible or appropriate in any way. There are other ways so spread the word and get more funding, one that doesn’t exploit innocent and hurting people.
This ties into to Polman saying, “Aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa” (pg. 177). On the outside, these organizations look like the purest and most committed in the game, but in reality, underneath all of the proper representation there is an immoral presence perpetuating underneath all of the good publicity. To the outsider, or to the vulnerable refugee/person in need, these organizations seem to be pristine and perfect; for their work is supposed to be live changing and saving. At the end of the day, many of these organizations are not what they seem. It is the job of of the public, governments, and journalists to endorse organizations for the work they’re doing, not for some personal or regional gain. It is also the individuals responsibility to read and research before donating/volunteering for one of these aid organizations. By doing so, one can pick out the groups that are worth being associated with and ones that exploit and take advantage of peoples losses. These people are not just a number, or less valuable because they are need. The governments which are supposed to protect them should be doing so, not using them as a way to get more money to service themselves and the wealthy people of the region.