The articles and essays in this publication discuss the specific context in which famines arise and the responses mobilised to address them. MSF has been involved in a number of famine responses (Uganda 1980, Ethiopia 1984-1985, Somalia 1991-1993) and has contributed to many chronic and acute malnutrition operations (Niger, Sudan and Ethiopia in particular in the 2000s). As theses famines were systematically related to armed conflict, the political implications are particularly significant and consequently, feature as a common theme in most of the analyses.
The ‘Somalia 1991-1993: Civil War, Famine Alert and a UN "Military-Humanitarian" Intervention‘ case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas met by MSF during the first years that it was committed to helping the Somali people.
The "Famine and Forced Relocations in Ethiopia 1984-1986" case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas met by MSF during the famine that decimated the Ethiopian population in 1984-1985.
Humanitarian assistance has become entangled with migration and security agendas. Indeed, most humanitarian assistance in Somalia and in refugee camps is subordinated and in support of these two agendas.
In the context of emergency appeals in the Horn of Africa, Rony Brauman recalls the contemporary definition of a famine. While recognising the progress made in major crisis response mechanisms, he questions the alarmist attitude of the UN.
For the past several months, news about food shortages and famines affecting large segments of the East African population have been fueling donation appeals from major public and private aid organizations.
This study sheds light on the mechanisms producing the official data used by humanitarian aid decision makers. It views Early Warning Systems (EWS) as tools that facilitate consensus between the decision-makers involved in the allocation of food aid, enabling them to reach institutional agreements.
For nearly two decades, François Jean practiced humanitarian action based on a deep, pragmatic desire to understand, constant self-questioning, and broad intellectual curiosity. It will be clear to anyone reading his collected works, From Ethiopia to Chechnya: Reflections on Humanitarian Action, 1988-1999, that his writings resonate with dilemmas we face today.