Skip to main content Accessibility help

To Do No Harm: Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Demands Political Engagement

  • Ronak B. Patel (a1) (a2) (a3) and Hannah B. Wild (a4)


Humanitarian aid in settings of conflict has always been fraught with challenges. In the absence of political engagement, however, manipulation by state authorities, however, have the potential to pervert aid intervention to inflict harm. South Sudan exemplifies how states may abuse the humanitarian response to retreat from public responsibility, divert funds to further violence and conflict and dictate the distribution of aid. Recent trends toward nationalist policies in the West that favor disengagement and limited military strikes have the very effect of allowing this abuse to transform humanitarian aid into a tool for harm. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:567–568)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Ronak B. Patel, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, 14 Story St., Second Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138 (e-mail:


Hide All
1. Lischer, SK. Collateral damage: humanitarian assistance as a cause of conflict. International Security. 2003;28(1):79-109.
2. Aid Worker Security Database. Major attacks on aid workers: summary statistics (2005-2015). Humanitarian Outcomes, 2017. Accessed April 8, 2017.
3. Nunberg, B. South Sudan’s civil service challenges: an outside perspective. International Growth Center Working Paper, 2015. Accessed April 12, 2017.
4. Nichols, M. South Sudan to blame for famine, still buying arms: U.N. report. Reuters. March 17, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2017.
5. Shimanyula, J, Meier, M. South Sudan: aid supplies blocked while fighting spreads. Deutsche Welle. March 7, 2016.


To Do No Harm: Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Demands Political Engagement

  • Ronak B. Patel (a1) (a2) (a3) and Hannah B. Wild (a4)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed