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MSF and the aid system: Choosing not to choose

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Resource type:Research, reports and studies
Language:English
Keywords:Development & humanitarian aid, NGOs
Agency:MSF - Médecins sans Frontières
Author(s):Brauman, R. and Neuman, M.
Date published:May 2014
Pages:13pp

 We often hear it said within MSF that the aid system – that is to say all the institutional actors involved in international humanitarian aid – is unable to provide effective relief, or that the aid system’s ability to provide aid is in decline. These statements, which suggest that MSF is itself outside the "system", are based on the very real number of people in relief operations who need help but do not receive it, or do not receive enough of it. But such a negative assessment could equally be applied to some of the operations of which MSF staff are most proud, and it ignores the transformations – both qualitative and quantitative –in aid techniques and policies. To have a practical application, any critique of the aid system needs to be located not in the ideal world, where disasters incur no victims, but in a historical and concrete reality. Our aim is to explore MSF’s relationship with the aid system, while showing how the ambitions of the aid system itself have evolved.

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