Cover image for Condemned to repeat? : the paradox of humanitarian action
Condemned to repeat? : the paradox of humanitarian action
Terry, Fiona.
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Publication Information:
Ithaca ; London : Cornell University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 282 pages ; 24 cm
Humanitarian action and responsibility -- The Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan -- The Nicaraguan and Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras -- The Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand -- The Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire -- Humanitarian action in a second-best world.

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HV640 .T47 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Humanitarian groups have failed, Fiona Terry believes, to face up to the core paradox of their activity: humanitarian action aims to alleviate suffering, but by inadvertently sustaining conflict it potentially prolongs suffering. In Condemned to Repeat?, Terry examines the side-effects of intervention by aid organizations and points out the need to acknowledge the political consequences of the choice to give aid. The author makes the controversial claim that aid agencies act as though the initial decision to supply aid satisfies any need for ethical discussion and are often blind to the moral quandaries of aid. Terry focuses on four historically relevant cases: Rwandan camps in Zaire, Afghan camps in Pakistan, Salvadoran and Nicaraguan camps in Honduras, and Cambodian camps in Thailand.

Terry was the head of the French section of Medecins sans frontieres (Doctors without Borders) when it withdrew from the Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire because aid intended for refugees actually strengthened those responsible for perpetrating genocide. This book contains documents from the former Rwandan army and government that were found in the ref

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The director of research and former head of the French section of Mdicins sans Frontires (Doctors Without Borders), Terry has written a compelling book about the failure of international humanitarian organizations to take into consideration a wider political context before providing aid. This shortsightedness, argues Terry, results in the paradox that humanitarian aid aimed at alleviating suffering instead sustains the oppressive action that caused it. In clear and concise analysis, she begins with the controversial claim that the aid agencies respond in knee-jerk fashion to any conflict without further investigating or even considering the ramifications of their aid. In four documented cases Afghan camps in Pakistan, Salvadoran and Nicaraguan camps in Honduras, Cambodian camps in Thailand, and Rwandan camps in Zaire Terry details how aid given to help people often ends up in the coffers of the combatants. Terry backs up her claim with photocopies of documents that will be of special interest to scholars of the 1996 Rwanda massacres. Recommended for all libraries. Glenn Masuchika, Rockwell Collins Information Ctr., Cedar Rapids, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this work Terry, associated with the private medical relief group Doctors without Borders, addresses the central question of whether relief agencies actually contribute to the wars and other conflicts whose victims they are trying to assist. She focuses on Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, Nicaraguan and Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras, Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand, and Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire. Noting that governments have various nonhumanitarian policies that are manifested in dealing with refugee flows, including allowing refugee camps to be used for military purposes, Terry concludes that aid agencies must necessarily contribute to these governmental maneuvers. But in general she does not find that the impact of the aid agencies on the outcome of militarized political struggles is very great. She concludes that the best aid agencies can do in the real world of governmental realpolitik is to try to minimize undesirable political impact that inheres in humanitarian assistance. This book is part of a broad review of international humanitarian assistance by various authors and institutions in the wake of the Balkan wars and other events of the late 20th century. Terry's views are not novel, but she does provide careful documentation of part of the larger picture. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Graduate students and specialists. D. P. Forsythe University of Nebraska