Migrants and Citizens

Private money, public good?

Sometimes you have to sacrifice your sacred cows. I believe in public goods; in collective action and in solidarity. I don’t think charity – dependency on the benevolence of others – is an adequate substitute for welfare that… Read More


You can stay, but you have to go…

All gifts come with strings attached: but some have more strings attached than others. In 2008, Tanzania announced it was prepared to offer naturalisation to 162,000 Burundian refugees. Known as the “1972” caseload (to distinguish them from the… Read More


Let 500 in.  2.3 million Syrian refugees, and Britain can find room for 500.  Not any refugees, of course – only the ‘most vulnerable’; the ‘most traumatised’; the rape victims; the children who need medical support.  And on… Read More

Humanitarian Development?

(This was originally written for LSE’s new International Development blog… check it out here at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/internationaldevelopment/) Where does conflict end and development begin? Who’s responsible for “early recovery” in the messy continuum between crisis and stability, the “relief-development gap”? … Read More

Natural Humanitarians?

Today is International Women’s Day: the day after tomorrow, Mother’s Day (in the UK). A juxtaposition I find unsettling.  Not because mothers don’t deserve flowers or breakfast in bed – or recognition for all the work they do… Read More

Feet of clay: Aung San Suu Kyi, UNHCR and the Rohingya refugees

Idolatry is a dangerous habit. As a starry-eyed liberal teenager, I knew the names I was supposed to venerate. Aung San Suu Kyi was on the list, sandwiched somewhere between Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela on… Read More

(In)humanitarianism begins at home?

The UK would claim to be on the side of the angels in Syria. Who could dispute David Cameron’s claim, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Barack Obama, that he condemns the ‘horrific violence against innocent civilians’ in Syria? Yes, we ‘stand with… Read More

Kenya, Jubaland and Somalia’s refugees: no quick fixes

In recent days, Kenya has launched a military incursion into Somalia, to push back the Al-Shabbab militants responsible for the recent murder and abduction of Western tourists and aid-workers from Kenyan territory. Framed as a necessary security response… Read More

Ménage à trois

Every refugee researcher has an opinion on UNHCR and its role in providing refugees’ protection. For some, UNHCR is the devil incarnate, responsible for many refugees’ imprisonment in camps and part of the problem, rather than the solution…. Read More

Japan vs Libya

No one would deny that the terrible events in Japan are newsworthy. The images of the Tsunami’s destruction won’t be forgotten easily. Yet sitting with friends yesterday, we turned to Libya and how quickly – and conveniently –… Read More


I spent last week in Geneva – which provides some excuse for my recent cyberspace silence.  Relentless rounds of meetings interspaced by working coffees: hardly a recipe for creative thought.  But Geneva itself provides plenty of material for… Read More

Humanitarian responses…

Some interesting responses from the humanitarian sector to the widespread media criticism of their Haitian efforts. This — from the `Active Learning Network in Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action’  (otherwise known as ALNAP) — and this —… Read More