When Humanitarian Aid Winds Up in the Wrong Hands – TIME

The real story behind Ethiopia’s famine exemplifies many of the problems with aid. In the West, the famine of the 1980s was seen as a great natural disaster. Band Aid was so successful — it raised tens of millions of dollars — because it played on Westerners’ sense of obligation to “save Africa” and their sense of guilt for somehow “allowing” the famine to happen. But the reality was far more complex. While Ethiopia was indeed in the grip of a drought, Mengistu Haile Mariam’s government, which was fighting an insurgency at the time, restricted NGOs from helping famine victims in certain areas and forcibly moved hundreds of thousands of people from one place to another in a repeat of Soviet-era collectivization campaigns, exacerbating their plight. The rebels, who came to power years later, are partly responsible for people’s suffering, too. A CIA report cited by the BBC found that money raised by the insurgents, ostensibly to help the starving, was “almost certainly” diverted for military purposes.

When Humanitarian Aid Winds Up in the Wrong Hands – TIME

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