Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Dealing with the military - a double edged sword for NGOs

By Lynn Arnold - posted Tuesday, 29 April 2003

Coalition forces have all but declared victory in Iraq, yet there has not been any significant movement of humanitarian relief. Instead there are looted hospitals without medicines struggling to treat the sick and the injured.

So why the delay? Why haven't organizations such as World Vision started their work?

The reality is that the situation in Iraq is still unstable from a humanitarian perspective, and the UN - whose guidance we rely on to say when to enter a country safely - are still unable to go into parts of Iraq to undertake even the most basic of security assessments. The recent delivery of food took four days to travel 300 kms from Jordan to Baghdad and faced danger at several stages along the journey.


The situation is concerning for all, including governments and the military.

The allied forces have tried to fill the void and undertake some humanitarian work, and indeed the delivery of vital supplies should be commended.

The airlift of medical supplies, delivered by the RAAF, will undoubtedly be welcomed in Iraq. However as we saw from the chaotic food distribution images from a few weeks ago, the military don't have the expertise to distribute emergency aid. Nor should they be expected to - it's not their job.

It is the job of aid agencies.

But the recent military airlift highlighted the level of instability within Iraq, requiring an armed presence to ensure the safe landing and unloading of these supplies.

The answer would seem clear - why not work with the military to deliver humanitarian aid?


The reality is that in this conflict, aid agencies are facing unprecedented challenges.

For the first time we have a coalition of governments and military forces who want to play an active role in delivering humanitarian assistance themselves.

Aid agencies are having to decide how closely to work with the military, and it is not an easy decision.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

This article was first published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 24 April 2003.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Lynn Arnold is Chief Executive of World Vision Australia and was Premier of South Australia in 1992-1993 and Minister for Multicultural and Ethic Affairs 1989-1993.

Related Links
War in Iraq Policy Brief
World Vision
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy