The Smith College Relief Unit, Near East Relief and visions of Armenian reconstruction, 1919–21
, Florence Snow, Helen Thayer and Helen Whitman.
5 See A. D. Krikorian and E. L. Taylor’s data compilation and analysis, ‘Ninety-six Years Ago Today’, Armenian News Network , 16 February 2015, www.groong.org/orig/ak-20150216.html (accessed 20 March 2020).
6 B. Little, ‘An Explosion of New Endeavours: Global Humanitarian Responses to Industrialized Warfare in the First World War Era’, First World War Studies 5:1 (2014), 1–16.
7 For example, special issue of First World War Studies 5:1 (2014); D. Rodogno, ‘Non-state Actors’ HumanitarianOperations in the
The fourth chapter focuses on Rwandan refugees in Zaire. Between 1994 and 1996, all international attempts to persuade them to return failed. In October 1996, Rwanda and the movements opposing President Mobutu launched a military offensive in east Zaire and then advanced towards Kinshasa. How were the refugees affected by this offensive? How did they react? A great many of them were repatriated to Rwanda, whereas countless others fled into the interior of Zaire. This chapter examines the humanitarian operations deployed during this period – from the destruction of the refugee camps in October and November 1996 to the final wave of refugees who walked 2,000 km to the border between Zaire and Congo-Brazzaville to escape their pursuers.
Following recent historiography, the chapter calls into question the overlapping of the foundation of the Red Cross and the origins of humanitarianism. At the same time it explains why the birth of the ICRC marked a turning point: it led to the completion of acts that were already in progress, it catalysed the different forces in action and it intercepted shared opinions and feelings. In the first instance the new organisation directed aid and treatment work towards war victims, marking for a long time the main boundaries of humanitarian action. As well as this, the initiatives promoted by the Genevan committee as early as the beginning of the 1860s for soldiers struck down by enemy fire or illness encouraged an interpenetration between humanitarianism and warfare. This took a leap forward in the Franco-Prussian War and then again in the First World War. At the same time, Europe became the centre-stage for humanitarian operations.
the siphoning off of a not-insignificant proportion of this aid
into the war economy.
As preparations for the commemoration
ceremonies got underway, the two authors of this book were in no doubt
that they would be questioned about Médecins Sans
Frontières’ humanitarianoperations and strategies, not only
in Rwanda before, during and after the April to July 1994 genocide, but
took a leap forward in the Franco-Prussian War and then again in the First World War. At the same time, Europe took centre stage for humanitarianoperations. This principally Eurocentric perspective lasted for around a century, intertwining itself with the redefinition of both the geopolitical map of Europe and the international balance of power.
We can identify in the path of action followed by the Genevan committee certain elements that, in the ensuing decades, characterised the development of the international aid system. One element was the emergence of
Displacement and the humanitarian response to suffering: reflections on aiding Armenia
-state Actors’ HumanitarianOperations in the Aftermath of the First World War: The Case of the Near East Relief’, in F. Klose (ed.), The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 185–207.
12 A good starting point is B. Taithe and J. Borton, ‘History, Memory and “Lessons Learnt” for Humanitarian Pactitioners’, European Review of History , 23:1–2 (2016), 210–24.
modern, technical, transnational and secular endeavour. 28 Along similar lines, Keith Watenpaugh has argued for the exceptionality of Western humanitarian interventions on behalf of post-genocide Armenians in the Middle East, stressing the extent to which a process of transformation in humanitarian practices took place. 29 Both Cabanes’ and Watenpaugh’s arguments claim a significant shift from wartime to post-war humanitarianoperations. However, such an emphasis on this period as a ‘break’ tend to obscure significant elements of continuity in practices and agents
Russian imperial responses to Armenian refugees of war and genocide, 1914–15
of Tiflis, was to coordinate the work of the committee.
This organisation was responsible for collection of donations, transportation of the refugees from the frontline to the interior, establishment of food stations on routes of mass population movement, and sanitary-medical assistance to the displaced and the refugees (particularly prevention of epidemics during humanitarianoperations). 54 The Caucasus Committee opened food and tea stations, as well as medical stations on the Igdir–Etchmiadzin–Erivan–Yelenovka–Dilijan–Aghstev route for refugees coming from
Orphans, refugees and Norwegian relief in the Soviet Armenian Republic, 1922–25
Inger Marie Okkenhaug
worked alongside NER in the Armenian Republic. These included a Norwegian orphanage, established and run by the nurse, midwife and missionary Bodil Biørn. Biørn, who had arrived in Anatolia in 1905 in the employ of the German Deutscher Hülfbund’s Mission, established an orphanage in Alexandropol (Leninakan/Gyumri) in the north-western part of Armenia in 1922. 4 Norwegian relief was small and unassuming compared to NER’s humanitarianoperation, and it was financed by private funds from Norwegian women. Even so, it aimed for modern, international standards, and for
–24 July 94’, 28 July 1994.
The activities of all the contingents were
studied by a team of specialists tasked with evaluating humanitarianoperations in Rwanda, Tanzania and Eastern Zaire. See Borton et
al. , Humanitarian Aid and Effects , p. 40 and pp.