International Community Must ‘Think Outside U.N.-Branded Box’ For Better, More Innovative Aid Solutions

IRIN: Editors’ take: The problem with aid convoys
Annie Slemrod, Middle East editor at IRIN, and Ben Parker, head of Enterprise Projects at IRIN

“…With hopes for an end to the war dashed time and again, much hope has been pinned on … U.N.-led aid ‘inter-agency’ convoys into mostly besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and the recent attack has brought them into further focus. But are these convoys … the best way to bring aid to a desperate population? Are they becoming more risky? Are they an overhyped symptom of a politicized aid system that has failed the people of Syria? Or perhaps all of the above? It’s time to ask some hard questions about how assistance is being delivered in Syria, and if it’s really helping that much at all. … [Aid convoys] are intended to build confidence, show common purpose among U.N. agencies and the Red Cross movement, and call the bluff of slippery negotiators. Their very deliberate visibility is intended, in theory, as a form of insurance against attack and to discourage the conflict parties from reneging on agreements. … The problem is that painting the convoys with what [one] analyst called ‘a desperate gloss’ may be distracting and preventing more inventive aid solutions. It’s time to think outside the U.N.-branded box” (10/3).

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