The topic of humanitarian aid is increasingly becoming contentious with academics, civil society and even aid organisations themselves questioning its sustainability in a world beset by endless human-induced wars, climate change and natural disasters.

The Media Review Network’s Executive Member, Dr. Firoz Osman, will be providing an important contribution to this debate at the Federation of Islamic Medical Association’s (FIMA) scientific congress currently being held in Istanbul, Turkey from 20 – 21 July 2017.

The theme of the congress is, “Health in Africa”, and brings together FIMA-affiliated members, government representatives, important decision makers, NGO members, relief organisations and academics from all over the world.

Dr. Osman’s paper entitled, “The Delusion of Humanitarian Aid in Africa”, questions the effectiveness of humanitarian aid on the African continent, which typically invokes images of endless disasters emanating from civil wars, famine and natural disasters.

He argues that humanitarian aid will never alleviate the suffering experienced on the continent but only result in short-term bandaged solutions. It is “like sprinkling a few drops of water on a raging inferno,” argues Dr. Osman.

The paper does not aim to diminish the unbelievable, courageous and motivating work done by humanitarian organisations. These organisations are crucial in ensuring the most marginalised on the continent have access, although limited, to food and medicine, a basic human right.

By viewing aid organisations as the vehicle through which to end African humanitarian suffering, we in effect only address the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem.

Rather, Dr. Osman argues that progressive forces in the world must engage in a paradigm shift and delink from the global forces of coloniality that continue to keep Africa in a state of dependency and therefore in continuous need of humanitarian aid.

Such a paradigm shift involves the continent carving out alternative futures in the form of its own political, socio-economic, and cultural institutions that reflect the needs and aspirations of its people.

This will be a bold undertaking with countries on the continent needing to navigate substantial resistance and coercion from Western forces, whilst simultaneously tackling internal resistance from post-independence elites.

For its part, Dr. Osman calls upon FIMA-affiliated members to invest resources in addressing causes of poverty, civil wars and natural disasters on the African continent, without which humanitarian need will not be effective.

The Media Review Network’s researcher, Ayesha Moola, will be live tweeting Dr. Osman’s presentation from the conference. Follow her @ayesha_moolaa.

 

Issued by Dr. Ahmed Haroon Jazbhay

Executive Member:  Media Review Network

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Ahmed Jazbhay

Ahmed Jazbhay is a lecturer in Political Science at UNISA, and is also a researcher at Media Review Network.He focuses on the decolonisation of knowledge and post-colonial struggles. Ahmed holds a PhD from the University of Johannesburg.