Humanitarian Aid Is 'Broken,' Says Former U.N. Official

The way we offer assistance to people fleeing conflict no longer works, says Paul Spiegel, a former director of program management at the U.N. refugee agency. He has a few ideas about how to fix it.
Paul Spiegel meets children displaced by conflict in Ivory Coast in 2011. Source: Courtesy of Paul Spiegel

The humanitarian aid system is broken.

That's the message of a new paper by Paul Spiegel, a former senior official at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The piece was part of a special series on health and humanitarian crises published by the British medical journal The Lancet in early June.

Today, more than 65 million people around the world have been forced from home due to violence, war or conflict. "The humanitarian system was not designed to address the types of complex conflicts that are happening at present," wrote Spiegel. "It is not simply overstretched; it is no longer fit for purpose."

Spiegel, a physician and a professor at Johns

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