Africa undermined by conflict: the real challenges of humanitarian action

Africa today experiences wars and conflicts which have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, in particular for the most vulnerable sections of society: women, children, ethnic, religious or cultural minorities. These crises also cause massive movements of refugee and displaced populations (Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola.)

This new situation has not failed to challenge the international community, which in many cases has felt overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedies, or even powerless to act to save or protect the victims. Policymakers in the North have started to question themselves and, beyond that, to imagine new avenues in order to adapt the tools and means of international cooperation to new contexts of crises, which are becoming more and more complex every day.

However, it is essential to go beyond virtuous political statements, or to reread the petitions in principle in the light of historical experiences and the fundamental concerns of recipients of international aid. In other words, what can we learn from the concrete reality of Kivu, Angola, etc. ? How is the relationship between those who receive aid and those who give it lived on a daily basis? What are the major challenges for Africa in the debate on the emergency / development couple?

The conflicts in question are characterized by certain common points:

  • those involved in violence are essentially young people, for whom violence is a way of life and a means of strengthening their social status;
  • the “banditization” of armed groups, the breakdown of rebellion movements and the crisis of state authority within them;
  • the connection between certain armed groups and elements of “international banditry” in a phase of strategic redeployment in Africa through the trafficking of drugs, weapons, counterfeit money and raw materials;
  • the politico-military restructuring of regional groups, made possible by the weakening of the state and the permeability of borders;
  • the proliferation of military expenditure (purchase of arms, ammunition and equipment for belligerents).