Oxfam GB Chief Acknowledges 'Terrible Dilemma' for Aid Workers in Conflicts

A newly released book by Dutch writer Linda Polman about the intersection of war and develoment assistance is spurring some controversy.

The book, “War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times,” argues that “humanitarianism has become a massive industry that, along with the global media, forms an unholy alliance with warmongers,” the U.K. Guardian reported last week.

In a letter to the editor, Oxfam GB chief Barbara Stocking criticized the author for not acknowledging “the terrible dilemma faced by aid agencies in war zones.”

The Oxfam official says the agency has to weigh whether to assist people or stop helping them when warring parties create difficult conditions for relief work. If aid, she adds, will bring more harm than good, then Oxfam is forced to stop providing it and seek other ways to help.

About the author

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino is an associate editor for Devex and leads the company's news team in Manila. She played a critical role in conceptualizing the Development Newswire. Prior to joining Devex in 2004, she has already published articles and news briefs for Internet media organizations and for the Institute for Ethics and Economic Policy at Fordham University in New York. She earned her bachelor's in political science and master's in public affairs from the University of the Philippines. Eliza is a member of Mensa Philippines.