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Humanitarian implications of a re-assertion of State sovereignty

Whilst there is indeed a trend towards the strengthening of State sovereignty, this concept is more multifaceted and ambivalent than it might appear. The author invites us to take stock of its developments, its complexity and the implications for humanitarian work.

Engaging with National Authorities: Médecins Sans Frontières’s experience in Guinea during the Ebola epidemic

The  Ebola  epidemic  continues  to  be  instructive.  This  was  indeed  the  conclusion  of  the  "Focus"  on  this subject  in  our  inaugural  issue:  the  magnitude  of  this  unprecedented  crisis,  its  failures  and  successes, required  that  there  were  lessons  to  be  learned.  This  is  what  Marc  Poncin,  the  former  coordinator  for Doct

Palliative Care in Humanitarian Crises

Medical humanitarian organizations don’t generally deal well with death. This may come as a surprise, since it’s a sombre reality of this line of work that frontline staff are often witness to death and dying. Contrary to the humanitarian’s general propensity for self-aggrandizement, it’s not always possible to save lives. So what then of the oft-cited dual imperative to alleviate suffering and preserve dignity?

Volunteers and responsibility for risk-taking: Changing interpretations of the Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières

The Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the guiding document for all of the organization's members, states in the final paragraph that volunteers "understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out". Through a review of the different periods in the history of MSF, this article analyzes the changing interpretations that the organization's successive leaders have given to this reference to the acceptance of risk by individuals.

Deplorable conditions in French ‘Refugee Camp’

The suffering endured by refugees and other exiles in the northern port town of Calais, France, has been the subject of significant media attention in recent months. Renewed interest in the plight of Calais' encamped population began to peak in April 2015, at the same time that the French authorities forcibly closed the largest settlement, situated in woodland adjacent to an active titanium oxide factory. Residents of this settlement were relocated to a nearby segment of sandy grassland that was once both a waste disposal site and a local shooting range.

Challenges in Responding to Massive Displacements in Resource-poor Settings: The Case of Central African Republic Refugees in Eastern Cameroon

Read the letter by Caroline Abu Sa'Da and Christine Jamet, a response to the briefing by Welz “Crisis in the Central African Republic and the international response” published in African Affairs (Vol. 113, No. 453, pp. 601-610).

Reconstruction of the health sector in Haiti: a missed opportunity?

The impact of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was devastating for a country whose history was already marked by poverty, natural disasters, environmental degradation and political instability. An outbreak of cholera several months later further hampered reconstruction efforts. At the same time, this presented an opportunity to rebuild and develop the country, including an already extremely fragile and inequitable health system.

Ebola healthcare workers: a hazardous and isolating job

As of the 31st of March 2015, 418 out of 815 infected health care workers had died from the Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to a recent WHO report. 217 recovered and the fate of the remaining 181 is unknown. These figures alone attest to the heavy price paid by medical staff responding to the crisis.

Extractive resources and the Ebola economy

Letter about extractive resources and Ebola, a response to the recent briefing by Wilkinson and Leach “Briefing: Ebola–myths, realities, and structural violence” published in African Affairs.

Working in a prison in Myanmar: Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience working in Insein prison

Working in a prison for a humanitarian organisation is not easy, particularly because of the specific characteristics of such places. Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience working in Insein prison illustrates the difficulties of achieving objectives both in terms of results (long term provision of appropriate and full medical care to patients) and working conditions (minimal manipulation, indiscriminate access to patients, etc.).