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The Necessary Mitigated Evil: Humanitarian Aid In Sub Saharan Africa

1887 words - 8 pages

Due in part to its tumultuous past, sub-Saharan Africa is a region of the world that is stricken with war, famine, and poverty. Many people in richer parts of the world, including North America and Europe, view helping the people who inhabit this part of the world as their duty and obligation. Both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) alike send humanitarian aid to sub-Saharan Africa. While this aid helps countless individuals and their families, humanitarian aid in sub-Saharan Africa fuels further conflict and enables violent groups, undermining the goals of the aid itself.
The history of humanitarian aid has been muddied by cases of NGOs and UN groups enabling violent groups by providing too much support and aid. During the Rwandan Genocide, two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, clashed and thousands of Tutsis were killed at the hands of the Hutus. Many people fled the country seeking refuge, and agencies set up refugee camps in some of the neighboring countries, beginning one of the largest humanitarian aid disasters that the world has ever seen (Lassiter 54). Many ex-combatants found their ways into these cams, receiving food and aid supplies. Some of these camps were even used as military bases where the ex-combatants could rally and then leave to kill their enemies. Thinking that they could curb reliance on aid workers and agencies, the aid was put under the control of the Rwandan soldiers. Because of the prejudice of the soldiers, only people of certain races and ethnicities received aid. The availability of aid to the military and militants enabled them to accomplish military objectives without fear of retribution. While the aid problems in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide affected the conflict indirectly, aid can also affect conflict directly. Due to the way that aid workers protect themselves from warlords, they often instill a sense of legitimacy in the leaders of the warring groups (Anderson 50). Aid groups often hire guards to protect themselves from the warriors and ask groups for permission before crossing combatant-controlled territories. This sense of legitimacy can give warlords a feeling of success and winning in their wars. Aid can also enable continued conflict. During a civil war in Burundi the government took advantage of the readiness and eagerness of aid groups to help (Pascal). The government forcibly removed thousands of citizens from their homes and moved them to a large clearing where they could be watched securely, causing a massive displacement of people who suddenly had no shelter. Instead of taking responsibility for its actions, the government called on aid groups to pick up the pieces of the disaster. The aid groups effectively cleansed the government of any responsibility they may have had for the wellbeing of their citizens, enabling conflict without regard for human rights. Another example of aid directly enabling continued conflict...

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