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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 10:11 AM | 16-07-2014

Aid agencies becoming “self-serving”

An incendiary new report by Médecins Sans Frontières highlights how other big aid groups are withdrawing from emergency work, especially in dangerous conflict zones, in favour of lucrative work on modish concepts.

Provocatively titled Where is Everyone? the report accuses the UN of being at the heart of dysfunction in three trouble spots, with conflicts of interest caused by its triple role as donor, coordinator and implementer of programmes. 

The MSF believes the core issue is attitude, not money. “It cannot be said that the main barrier to better response is lack of funding,” it says. The authors found few aid workers from other NGOs outside major urban areas – and those who were in the field, sometimes performing heroically, felt frustrated at the shift from critical work to fulfilling donor demands and keeping bureaucracies in business.

The problem is a competitive sector swollen with money – especially in Britain, where campaigners and politicians have focused on hitting an outdated aid target, instead of on results, the report claims. 

Huge sums can be raised for emergency relief, but there is less public compassion for conflict victims. 

Compare the £95 million raised by the Disasters Emergency Committee after the Philippines typhoon with the paltry £25 million given for Syrian refugees in the appeal's first year. In South Sudan aid groups feared that the cost of running an appeal could outweigh donations, the report claims.

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