This makes an incendiary new report by Médecins Sans Frontières well timed. The paper – provocatively titled Where is Everyone? – highlights how other big aid groups are withdrawing from emergency work, especially in dangerous conflict zones, in favour of lucrative work on modish concepts such as conflict resolution, capacity building and governance. Two years ago I heard this from the head of their Haiti mission in Port-au-Prince, despairing as he watched the aid caravan move on despite a cholera outbreak and thousands still homeless after the devastating earthquake.
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. Few who have seen its bumbling efforts in action could dispute such a claim. But this report marks the moment that MSF – the most tenacious and transparent of major European relief agencies – goes public with accusations that other groups focus on the wrong things.
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