Watch your step
Delivery of humanitarian aid around the world has become a moral, political and military minefield.
How do you broker deals with belligerents to reach vulnerable populations without selling your soul? When is a compromise to gain access to populations a betrayal of them? When to speak up, and when to say silent, on atrocities? When is doing nothing morally better than answering urgent human imperative to ”do something”?
The suicide attack last week was ”a really terrible event, and to understand it we have to first differentiate between aid and humanitarian aid - and I am not putting one above the other, morally speaking,” says Fabrice Weissman, a Frenchman who for years has been negotiating moral landmines as a veteran MSF logistician and head of mission.
His experiences in conflicts from Sudan to Sierra Leone, Ethiopia to Liberia, are drawn on in the book he has helped write and edit, Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (Columbia University Press), but which is perhaps known more evocatively by its French title, Agir a tout Prix? (Acting At Any Price?).
April 5, 2012
For Australia’s The Age