Humanitarianism

Hugo Slim sets me straight on the state of humanitarianism

Duncan Green - October 11, 2017

I wrote a gloomy piece on the state of humanitarianism recently, and got put straight by some excellent comments from Ed Cairns, Paul Harvey and others. Here’s a particularly erudite rebuttal from humanitarian guru Hugo Slim, who (among other things) is Head of Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross. (I’ve added a few links): Welcome to our world, Duncan. I’m glad you …

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How Change Happens (or doesn’t) in the Humanitarian System

Duncan Green - February 15, 2017

I’ve been in Stockholm this week at the invitation of ALNAP, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, which has been holding its annual meeting on the banks of a frozen Swedish river. I was asked to comment on the background paper for the meeting, Changing Humanitarian Action?, by ALNAP’s Paul Knox-Clarke.  I read the paper on the flight over (great …

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If governments don’t tackle the causes of conflict and the refugee crisis, will the World Humanitarian Summit be a damp squib?

Duncan Green - April 22, 2016

Ed Cairns Oxfam’s humanitarian policy adviser, sets the scene for next month’s World Humanitarian Summit as we publish our curtain raiser for the event. After years of preparation, and a roller coaster of expectations plunging and soaring, it is almost upon us. One month from tomorrow, dozens of world leaders will gather in Istanbul for the World Humanitarian Summit. The UN has finalised the commitments …

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Crunch time for global humanitarianism – funding can’t keep up with need, so what else is needed?

Duncan Green - June 18, 2015

Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on humanitarian advocacy, reviews the latest overview of global humanitarian aid. [Update: in response to readers’ comments, I’ve stuck up a very retrogressive humanitarian v long term aid poll to the right – please hold your nose and vote] This year’s Global Humanitarian Assistance report highlights some startling figures. For years these reports from the Development Initiatives stable have been the …

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Four years into the Syrian conflict, we must never lose sight of the civilians behind the ‘story’

Duncan Green - March 12, 2015

As the conflict in Syria enters its fifth year, Oxfam’s Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns, Maya Mailer, reflects on a recent trip to Lebanon and Jordan, where she spoke with Syrian refugees, and asks whether we have become immune to the suffering of Syrians. If you type ‘Syria’ into Google News, the headlines that normally appear are about airstrikes, beheadings, and Jihadi John.  The …

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Impressions of humanitarianism (based on last week’s trip to the Eastern Congo)

Duncan Green - June 11, 2014

Blimey, that was hard work. Still recovering from a ‘getting to know the humanitarians’ visit to Eastern Congo last week, having my skeleton rearranged by bouncing around for hours on truly execrable roads, and my insides rearranged by some persistent DRC microbes (I’ll spare you the details). I’ve always worked on the long term development and advocacy side of development, so this was something of …

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Disasters as Opportunities – your thoughts please

admin - November 19, 2013

Sticking with yesterday’s theme of how our humanitarian work is evolving, one of our more extraordinary Oxfamistas in the Philippines (Lan Mercado, profiled here) has asked a few of us to help her team think through the longer term implications of Supertyphoon Haiyan for our work. I have no idea how she manages to find headspace to think about that in the middle of the …

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What are the global trends in humanitarian response? How well is Oxfam responding?

admin - November 18, 2013

Twice a year Oxfam’s Regional Directors gather with its UK-based big cheeses to swap notes (they let me join them, for some reason). It’s an opportunity to allow the collective mind to catch up with all those accumulating individual impressions of how the world and our work is changing. Last week’s ‘deep dive’ was about humanitarian work: two days of conversations, questions and data dotted …

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Why building ‘resilience’ matters, and needs to confront injustice and inequality

admin - May 21, 2013

Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Adviser (right), introduces ‘No Accident’, Oxfam’s new paper on resilience and inequality Asking 50 Oxfam staff what they think of resilience will get 50 different responses. These will range all the way from the Sceptics (“just the latest buzzword, keep your head down and it’ll go away”), to the Deniers (“really nothing to do with me”) to the Pioneers (“it’s obvious, …

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