The third chapter explores what happened in Rwanda after the RPF’s military victory in July 1994. Mandated by the UN, the French army controlled the southwest of the country until late August. Camps sheltering Hutus Rwandans fleeing the rebel offensive had sprung up in the region and the health situation was disastrous. From November 1994 to April 1995, the new Rwandan army used force to close the displaced persons’ camps, which resulted in the massacre of several thousand people. The MSF teams involved in getting the country’s hospitals and health centres back into working order were witness to the repression the new government inflicted on certain districts. Meanwhile, MSF provided medical aid in Rwanda’s overpopulated prisons, where mortality rates were catastrophic.
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.
The second chapter focuses on the Rwandans who began fleeing their country in April 1994 and ended up in vast camps, notably in Tanzania and Zaire. Humanitarian organisations and UNHCR were quick to step into action. MSF’s assistance mainly focussed on the frequent health emergencies, especially when the camps first opened. Events required taking decisions of a political nature as the refugees included those who had led and carried out the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. The archives show that MSF field teams and head offices soon came to realise that these leaders continued to exert their influence over those who had sought refuge in the camps. Aid workers in the field found themselves forced to choose between pulling out from the camps and delivering medical aid; they either had to abandon their relief to avoid supporting those responsible for the genocide, or carry on providing assistance to civilians who could in no way bear the burden of collective guilt.
British relief in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71
Relief workers' accounts from the Franco-Prussian War reveal genuine concern, often at personal cost, to ameliorate the affliction of injured soldiers and of civilians wracked by siege and agricultural disruption. The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) was inundated with donations, and offers of help on a scale surpassing even that of the Patriotic Fund in the Crimean War. NAS volunteers either offered their services to existing French or German hospitals or formed complete ambulance units under the control of the Society. NAS surgeons recruited from Netley and the London teaching hospitals were concerned especially to keep up to date with treatments for wounds inflicted by the new artillery. The Quakers, of course, balked at the possibility of making war easier, and restricted their assistance to non-combatants. The NAS portrayed was civilian and independent, free of the stultifying effects of War Office bureaucracy.
The history of relief work is in its infancy. This book draws on new archival research to reveal the priorities of nineteenth-century relief workers, and the legacies of their preoccupations for relief work today. It first explores the inauguration of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 under the figurehead of Loyd Lindsay. Then, the book sees the revival of the NAS for work in the Balkans during a period of nationalist violence and Ottoman counter-insurgency which culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. It also follows the staff of relief committees as they dispensed aid in British colonial wars. The book examines the critiques of British policy in the Boer War (1899-1902) emanating from intersecting circles of Quakers, New Liberals and ethicists, and considers these groups' offer of aid to Boer civilians. Further, the book concentrates on the methodologies of relief for Boer inmates of British concentration camps in South Africa and on the implications of this relief for its intended recipients during and after the war. It concentrates on aid to British soldiers. The book closes by tracing continuities in vocational practices and dispositions to emerging areas of concern in the post-war period, in particular child welfare, and briefly considers their implication for relief work today.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book demonstrates the spirit in which relief agencies bestowed their gifts in war, as much remains to be written about the spirit in which they were received. It shows the relief work was a prominent arena for promoting national rejuvenation, furthering England's role overseas and enacting the ideals of participatory citizenship. The Armistice in November 1918 and the opening of peace negotiations two months later found apostles of humanity such as Edward Carpenter in despondent mood. Domestic infant welfare soon became the post-war British Red Cross Society's (BRCS's) main preoccupation. During the 1920s and 1930s the BRCS participated in this 'mothercraft' movement, training Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in the hygienic care of young children. The war correspondent Linda Polman has observed the potential for beneficiaries to manage their self-representation in conformity with fund-raising images.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores the origins of the Geneva Convention and British negotiations over its final form, stressing the legacy of the Crimean War on British attempts to reform the welfare of the common soldier. The book traces the delivery of aid by the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) and Friends War Victims' Relief Fund (FWVRF) in France. It also traces their experimental introduction of rapid-response medicine and attempts at 'self help' among the peasantry. It focuses on the delivery of aid and the politics of administering relief to civilians, refugees and soldiers in this region of insurgency and state violence, considering some of the various and contested understandings of neutrality that ensued.
Lady Strangford, helped along by Gladstone's patronage, administered one of the most prominent funds to aid suffering Christians in the Balkans, concentrating her efforts on those in the Rumeli district. The villages in Rumelia upon which Strangford and Long focused their concern had, by the spring of 1877, begun to return to normal. Unlike pro-Slav and Bulgarian relief funds, which relied on local connections, the Turkish Compassionate Fund worked closely with British diplomatic personnel. Much of the work of the Fund centred on the large town of Filibe, the site, a year earlier, of Lady Strangford's relief efforts. The question of aid to Serbian wounded had crucial political ramifications. The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War's (NAS's) role in the Serbo-Turkish War proved controversial, on the grounds of its ineptitude as much as of its politicisation.
This chapter considers the strained, sometimes acrimonious, negotiations that attended the systematisation of voluntary aid in Britain in this period of colonial conflict and fears of an impending German invasion. The Boer War of 1899-1902 was one of a cluster of colonial campaigns at the end of the nineteenth century in which the Red Cross movement provided aid to British soldiers for the first time. South Africa in 1899 found British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) officials reprising their role in the Sudan, particularly the provision of transport links for the evacuation of British wounded. For many, Red Cross work remained neutral by dint of its being 'above the fray': the feminisation of the British Red Cross Society (BRCS) in fund-raising and publicity images of beatific Red Cross nurses would only amplify this impression.
Events of 1876-78, for the exposure of atrocity and provision of relief formed a template of a popular humanitarian politics that would animate broad strands of radicalism up to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 and beyond. Protestors were urged to donate money for the relief of the victims of oppression as an expression of solidarity with their fellow protestors and their suffering 'brothers' in South-Eastern Europe. It is worth pointing out some of the complexities of the events that British protestors labelled the 'Bulgarian atrocities'. The Bulgarian Orthodox population as a whole was largely quiescent, and there was no Bulgarian revolutionary tradition. The Bulgarian Orthodox population as a whole was largely quiescent, and there was no Bulgarian revolutionary tradition. Rumours of a Bulgarian uprising elicited brutal local reprisals. Violence occurred against Christians and against Muslims in the area.