Plight of Humanitarian Aid in the West
Humanity faces different kinds of challenges as urbanization gains speed. Among these problems, the increase in poverty, degradation of ethics, disintegration of family life and dissolution of social bonds are the most destructive ones. To solve these contemporary problems people created a variety of organized solutions as well.
Humanitarian organizations are the result of these efforts to ease the suffering of the affected people -at least in physical sense. It is accepted as a third sector in Western countries, after the public and private ones, because of the huge amount of money that is concerned. But it is not only about money. Virtue, mercy, responsibility, prestige, political goals, personal comfort, influencing and helping other nations and other driving factors are also at play.
When someone looks at the annual budget of some countries in humanitarian activities, one can understand the big money that is at stake. For example, the EU’s budget is about 1 billion Euros and the US’s is almost close to this figure in this sector. As for Islamic countries, the money is comparably greater than Western countries. Turkey’s humanitarian budget, for example, is nearly $600m –half of it is spent outside the country. It could be said with ease that this amount of money is certainly more than the amount that is spent for armaments. Another reading of this figure can be that, as far as implications of humanitarian help are concerned, many countries consider this sector as important as the military one.
It is true, humanitarian relief should be based on purely virtuous codes. However, unfortunately, aid was also secularized in the West as is the case in all spheres of Western life. The sense of helping other people was also alienated from its divine and devotional nature and became a totally secular sector, leading to problems.
In the Islamic world help practices are still carried out in traditional ways -direct donations to the poor from the closest circle of relatives to in an outward direction. On the contrary, in the West, almost all humanitarian aid activities are somewhat made by organizations. In addition, the West, by secularizing humanitarian aid, displays some disturbing phenomena in the hands of its organizations.
To begin with, corruption in the humanitarian sector is the most important one. This can be committed in a hidden way or through so-called technical regulations. Two years ago, World Food Program (WFP) cancelled all food distribution activities in Somalia because of corruption. The method used by the perpetrators was the very sophisticated white-collar crime. The “administrative expenses” are the most important item in this kind of fraud. In some cases, the money that is spent for administrative expenses reach as high as half of the whole aid budget.
On the other hand, the same corruption problem manifests itself in excessive expenses for unnecessary items in the humanitarian field such as splashing out money on luxury jeeps. When you scrutinize the equipment that so-called humanitarian workers use in the field you will see the newest model of field vehicles, hi-tech telephones and different unusual gadgets. All of these were financed from humanitarian budget.
“The humanitarian meetings” seeking for a solution, for example, to the starvation problem in Africa in five-star luxury hotels is another indirect way of stealing money. Spending millions of dollars on repetitive (but vain) meetings that always consist of a handful of so-called experts is very usual for some of the Western organizations. Furthermore there is the publishing and tabling of unread reports prepared by experts with big money or, organizing pointless programs to legalize the means of sucking money.
As regards non-financial (non-pecuniary) malpractices, there are a great number of cases where some Western humanitarian organizations are involved in such as weapon smuggling in the Sudanese civil war during the 1980s and missionary activities in some Islamic countries like Kosovo. As an extreme example of the great lengths to which humanitarian organizations can go, is human trafficking. In 2009 a French children’s church organization was caught red handed while trying to smuggle more than 100 children from Chad. Another unfortunate exemple is that some western humanitarian workers were involved in collecting intelligence for their secret services in Afghanistan during the last two decades.
It is true that it is a very gloomy picture as far as humanitarian organizations are concerned. Still, there are well-intentioned people in the West who fulfil their roles in a perfect way. Besides, they also struggle to clear the sector of the rotten apples. But as long as the secular point of view continues, there always will be rotten apples in the basket.
In short, the humanitarian sector suffers in the West as do the other sectors of life. The solution is to make peace with religion and to divorce secularism in this realm.