The proliferation of crises around the world has led to a sharp increase in the scale of humanitarian aid required to meet the vital needs of the people affected by them for food, water, medical care and shelter. Humanitarian organizations can either meet those needs directly or support local services engaged in the same work. In most cases, both approaches are used. Malnutrition, illness, wounds, torture, harassment of specific groups within the population, disappearances, extra-judicial executions and the forcible displacement of people are all found in many armed conflicts. Aside from their direct effects on the individuals concerned, the consequences of these tragedies for local systems must also be considered: the destruction of crops and places of cultural importance, the breakdown of economic infrastructure and of health-care facilities such as hospitals, etc. The impact of armed conflict on people and systems vital to their survival can take different forms, as the following examples illustrate: when Rwandan refugees fled into former Zaire, the mortality rate rose sharply, to as much as 10 times what is regarded as the threshold of extreme emergency, and large scale displacement invariably causes a dramatic increase in malnutrition rates. In children under the age of five, this can reach 20% (Rwandan refugees in Zaire, 1994) or even 50% (Somalia, 1992). Aid for victims of conflict remains the primary responsibility of the warring parties. The need for outside help arises when the parties to a conflict are unable or unwilling to shoulder that responsibility. Any successful aid strategy will have different goals. For example, aid is primarily intended to prevent the disastrous consequences mentioned above by stepping in before the health of the victims of conflict deteriorates. This requires prompt action either to assist the affected population groups directly or to prevent the deterioration of health care, agricultural or other local systems. This enables those systems to cope with the situation and thereby to prevent people’s health from deteriorating. But aid should also be designed to prevent the growth of dependence on outside assistance. Perrin, P. (1998).
The impact of humanitarian aid on conflict development. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Retrieved from http://www.icrc.org
Development assistance can promote conflict when it is administered without considering social and political conditions. It is very difficult to ensure that the effec