Humanitarian aid, genocide and mass killings

Médecins Sans Frontières, the Rwandan experience, 1982– 97

Throughout the 1990s, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was forced to face the challenges posed by the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis and a succession of major outbreaks of political violence in Rwanda and its neighbouring countries. Humanitarian workers were confronted with the execution of close to one million people, tens of thousands of casualties pouring into health centres, the flight of millions of others who had sought refuge in camps and a series of deadly epidemics. Where and in what circumstances were the MSF teams deployed? What medical and non-medical assistance were they able to deliver? Drawing on various hitherto unpublished private and public archives, this book recounts the experiences of the MSF teams working in the field. It also describes the tensions (and cooperation) between international humanitarian agencies, the crucial negotiations conducted at local, national and international level and the media campaigns. The messages communicated to the public by MSF’s teams bear witness to diverse practical, ethical and political considerations. How to react when humanitarian workers are first-hand witnesses to mass crimes? How to avoid becoming accomplices to criminal stratagems? How to deliver effective aid in situations of extreme violence?

This book is intended for humanitarian aid practitioners, students, journalists and researchers with an interest in genocide and humanitarian studies and the political sociology of international organisations.

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