Compromised Action and Suspicious Relations
This chapter explores tensions in humanitarian relations. These relations contain both suspicion and compassion. Specifically, it considers the complexities of humanitarian subject positions, conflicts over humanitarian obligations, and dilemmas of humanitarian purpose. Some humanitarian workers are internationals; the majority are themselves refugees. Some refugee are paid for their work; others are volunteers. All of these positions are fraught. Providers and refugees also struggle over the nature and limits of humanitarian obligations. UNRWA’s mandate has expanded to include protection, but refugees also want representation. As threats to life recede, but need continues, the purpose of humanitarian action also becomes murky and contested. Humanitarians suggest that coping skills can be a humanitarian good. Recipients question whether bearing up under bad conditions can ever be enough.
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