Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bread and Bullets

The South African Defence Review guides policy-making. The plan involves the country’s military providing "critical humanitarian assistance and reconstruction capabilities during and immediately after military operations."

Using armed forces to distribute humanitarian assistance in conflict or complex post-conflict areas violates the humanitarian principles. This includes foreign peacekeepers. The review does not even acknowledge humanitarian principles. Humanitarian and military actors differ profoundly in terms of their training. This includes differences in skills, aims, mandates, agendas, operational methods and institutional cultures. Because of this, the responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance rests primarily with humanitarian and aid organisations. The role of peacekeepers is to contribute to creating stability and security. They are also tasked with ensuring freedom of movement for local and international humanitarian aid workers. South African peacekeepers will endanger humanitarian efforts if they get involved in humanitarian work. Instead of helping bring peace, stability and relief, they will compromise the work of humanitarian organisations. Humanitarian work in Africa should be left to humanitarian and aid agencies.

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