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Is offering (War-zone) Humanatarian aid actually harmful?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by Orionaut, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. Orionaut


    Joined: Aug 2, 2012

    Posts: 6,523

    Over Christmas there was a spate of adverts asking people to support various aid operations in places such as Syria, Yemen and so on.

    Now, Whilst the plight of the poor civilians caught up in all this is heartrending (And particularly in the case of the children who can have no real concept as to why they are suffering, and Also, for whom severe malnutrition is going to affect them for the rest of their lives in a way that adults are much better at recovering from)

    Nevertheless, The thought that comes to me is do humanitarian efforts that support the civilian populations in these sorts of war-zones (And in particular food aid) actually help the situation?

    Through all of histories, Wars tend to end for one of two reasons.

    a) One side clearly outclasses the other and victory is swift and decisive.

    b) The two sides are rather more equally matched and the issue is decided through attrition. Either military attrition or simply resource attrition such as running out of food or other materials.

    My concern about humanitarian aid is that it tends to inhibit scenario #b as an end to the conflict if #a is not a clear option (If #a had been an option, the conflict would never have gone on for long enough for aid to be necessary)

    As such, while Humanitarian aid will certainly save specific individuals, the overall effect is going to be to significantly prolong conflicts that might otherwise have been resolved far more quickly with the result that far more damage is done overall to both sides of the conflict. Both economically and in respect to their individual populations.

    So, Is humanitarian aid something that actually helps people in the long term? Or is it actually misplaced generosity that actually makes things worse and simply prolongs and adds to the overall misery??

    What say you SC?
  2. PiKe


    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 23,872

    Location: Lake District

    Or the aid is intercepted and goes to the wrong people.
  3. Kermit

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 27, 2002

    Posts: 2,206

    Location: UK

    While not spectically war related [although there has been war in the region] I wondered a little while what Etheopia's polulation was today. With 1984 Live Aid and all that followed being a big event in my teens. It turns out the population was about 34/35 million at the time of the 1983/84 famine, todays its in the region of 107 million living off the same land that back in 1984 wasn't able to support a third of taht population and can't help thinking how much bigger a humanitarian problem its going to be the next time a wide spread famine hits the region given its expected the population will be 190 million by 2050.


    I would say the problem (if I can be so crude to call it a problem), is natural selection and natural dependancy on the resources available in a region is longer the governing factor in human occupancy and population in any particullar area/region and while in many ways thats a good thing, I can't help but beleive the world is already significantly over populated and we're exasperating it with aid even though I know to ignore it is terrible. I don't know what the solution is but it will only get worse as population increases and wars most often in those regions with large population growth will exasperate the problem till at some point something will have to give.
  4. Nasher


    Joined: Nov 22, 2006

    Posts: 12,187

    This is the main problem.
  5. jsmoke


    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 7,063

    Its partly, or largely business also. These charity and aid companies are businesses and this is what they do.

    As for the ethics or morality of it, I guess it's the thought that counts, the idea of hope.
  6. arknor


    Joined: Nov 22, 2005

    Posts: 35,571

    Location: Newcastle/Zurich

    too much corruption its almost a waste of time
  7. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 62,140

    Interesting that your perspective seems to be the most important thing is that the war ends as if who ends up victorious is an immaterial factor.

    Also a range of possibilities as to the aid itself - a lot of humanitarian aid (where it does reach its intended recipient) connected to the Syrian conflict ends up helping those in refugee camps outside of the conflict itself and doesn't really help to either lengthen or shorten the war. But as mentioned above a lot of aid never reaches its intended recipients.
  8. edscdk


    Joined: Jul 17, 2008

    Posts: 6,579

    We like wars a lot we should pick a side and throw everything at the other side not pussy foot round the issue, or just say f u to both sides and take out all their assets (not that that helps much as a lot of these conflicts they will use rocks and sticks if we bust all the nice killies we sold to them).. Might be a nice little boost to the investor of arms mfgs a few years down the line though if we mess up their expensive killies
  9. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 62,140

    What could possibly go wrong :p
  10. Lord-Jaffa


    Joined: Jul 29, 2004

    Posts: 5,395

    Location: UK

    This, business (sorry i mean charitys) are profiting hugely and care not that some warlord steals it before it goes to feed a million that can't feed themselves, ad infinitum.
  11. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,070

    Using force or violence to steal food aid is one example of the way warfare targets civilian populations.

    Warlords and those engaged in violence target civilian populations.

    I don't think that's a reason to suggest that we should not attempt to protect civilians in war- zones and limit suffering.