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IRIN’s Top Picks: Aleppo, militarised aid and an end to poverty

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Rebel fighters in the Syrian city of Aleppo

DUBAI, 3 April 2015 (IRIN) – Welcome to IRIN’s weekly pick of journalism and research about the humanitarian world.

Five to read:

Does humanitarian aid mend communities or break them?

Aid agencies have a mandate to support the most vulnerable first, but while this targeted approach makes sense given the limited availability of funds, it can create social divisions within affected communities. After months interviewing villagers hit hard by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, sociologist and humanitarian consultant Jonathan Corpus Ong examines the plight of those who feel excluded and calls for greater attention to be paid to local sensitivities.

The Need for Evidence-Based Assessments of the Effectiveness of Civil-Military Coordination in Humanitarian Response 

National militaries can play a key role in disaster relief, as we have seen most recently in Haiti and the Philippines. However, there are obvious ethical implications of politicising and militarising aid. In this blog, Vincenzo Bollettino, executive director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, considers this double-edged sword and calls for greater research into the civil-military partnership that must be at the heart of any coordinated response.

States of Fragility 2015: Meeting post-2015 ambitions 

A new report produced by New York University’s Center on International Cooperation for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development questions whether poverty eradication goals are really feasible in countries affected by conflict. It calls for “smarter aid” and better monitoring about where and how donor funds are spent. Recommendations include reducing the costs of remittances and creating an international mechanism to be able to track peace and security spending within Overseas Development Assistance.

Bled dry: How war in the Middle East is bringing the region’s water supplies to breaking point.

Water scarcity is not a new problem for the Middle East. Gaza, Yemen and Jordan are among the driest territories in the world, thanks to low rainfall, limited aquifers and growing urban populations. This report from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) outlines the devastating impact conflict is having on the region’s water systems and how water itself is being used, in some cases, as a weapon of war.

Libya: State collapse triggers mass displacement

As of last December, there were more than 400,000 internally-displaced people (IDPs) in Libya, almost eight percent of the entire population Most of them fled their homes last summer as fighting escalated between various armed groups in Benghazi and Tripoli, but more than 50,000 people have been displaced since the uprising against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Libya’s post-Gaddafi landscape is extremely complicated, but this detailed briefing from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) presents a comprehensive overview – with good maps and graphics – of the displacement caseload and the humanitarian challenge in the country. One to bookmark.

One to watch:

Death of Aleppo

This poignant documentary – made with footage collected by Syrian filmmakers between late 2014 and early 2015 –provides a rare glimpse into life in rebel-held areas of Aleppo. The scale of destruction and suffering in this once majestic city is hard to imagine, but from amid the rubble emerge some deeply touching stories of personal and community resilience. Interviewees include teachers, doctors, civil defence leaders, school pupils, shopkeepers and the elderly.

One to listen to: 

The end of poverty?

The BBC examines the World Bank’s claim that poverty can be eradicated in the next 15 years, in a special edition of Business Daily. There is an interview with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, a report from Tanzania, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies that continues to have high levels of poverty, and a studio discussion with Oxford University’s Professor Sir Paul Collier, Kevin Watkins from the Overseas Development Institute and Professor Henrietta Moore, director of University College London’s Institute for Global Prosperity.

From IRIN:

Take the medicine trail

It can take up to half a year from when humanitarian agencies order medical supplies to the date they arrive in the countries where they are needed. IRIN has delved into the supply chains used by Medicins Sans Frontieres and the UN refugee agency. Join us on the time-consuming and perilous journey many drugs have to take before then can begin to save lives.



Theme (s): Aid Policy,