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Demand for Dignity: Refugees Challenge the Humanitarian System

In May 2016 the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), an unprecedented gathering of international humanitarian actors convened by the UN Secretary General, was held in Istanbul. The preparation for the summit, consultations were held around the world with recipients of humanitarian aid. The results of the consultations with assorted refugee communities in the Middle East were dramatic: refugees feel poorly served by the humanitarian system. They expressed concerns about corruption and favoritism in aid delivery, indicated that aid agencies were not meeting their priority needs, and did not feel treated with respect and dignity by these agencies. Among this diverse group, Palestinians gave humanitarian actors notably higher marks than did other refugees on: considering their opinions and treating them with respect and dignity. The results of these interviews indicate significant problems in the relationship between humanitarians and refugees and also suggest that confrontations over these dynamics (as has been a fundamental part of the Palestinian experience) can effect positive change.


Participant: Ilana FELDMAN
Dept. of Anthropology | George Washington University
Presentation: " Corruption and Humanitarian Governance"