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Security and Humanitarian Aid in Haïti
June - September 2013

Following the 2010 earthquake, security in Haïti has been one of the most controversial and controversial issues in and between international organizations. The perceptions of insecurity then varied diametrically from one actor to another, and particularly between humanitarian organizations and development NGOs. It is within this framework and to understand these issues that Groupe URD has carried out the study "Insécurité et aide humanitaire : l’impossible dialogue ? Décrypter les enjeux des politiques sécuritaires des organisations humanitaires dans l’Aire métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince".

As part of the activities of Groupe URD’s Observatory in Haïti, a study has been realized on “Security and humanitarian aid in Haïti”. This subject has been chosen due to the extremely strict security rules applied by the main international organisations (United Nations agencies, humanitarian NGOs and donors), which were made even more restrictive following the earthquake. Few NGOs, for example, questioned the use of military protection (US army, MINUSTAH, PNH) to oversee their food distributions immediately after the earthquake.

The debate about the militarization of aid was taken up by a few intellectuals (N. Chomsky, M. Chossudosky), but very little by humanitarian organizations. Whereas development actors live in relatively “normal” conditions, the security constraints that humanitarian NGOs have imposed on themselves mean that they are often very cut off from Haitian society. They have not gone into certain poor neighbourhoods due to the actual or perceived security risks.

The study attempted to shed light on the reasons for these security measures and on the possible contradictions with certain humanitarian principles such as impartiality, neutrality and direct access to communities.

On 12 December 2013, Groupe URD’s Haiti Observatory organised a round table to present the report. A dozen representatives of different humanitarian organizations (Médecins sans Frontière, Oxfam Québec, CRS, ACTED, etc.) were present for a very frank discussion of the important and sensitive question of security for humanitarian organisations.