Understanding Integration from Rwanda to Iraq [Full Text]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 18.2 (Fall 2004)

September 24, 2004

The past decade has seen profound changes in the relationship between humanitarian and political action. The political determinants of humanitarian crises are now acknowledged, so too is their chronicity, and the limits of relief aid as a form of intervention are thus more fully understood. In 1994, in the refugee camps of Goma, Zaire, there was widespread manipulation of aid resources by armed groups implicated in the genocide in Rwanda. This experience highlighted a wider concern that, rather than doing good, emergency aid can fuel violence. The apparent consensus that humanitarian assistance can somehow stand outside politics gave way to calls for tighter linkage between aid and political responses to crises.