Accepted Paper:

Remote management aid practices: the humanitarian cross-border operation in Syria  


Ignacio Fradejas-García (Autonomous University of Barcelona)

Paper Short Abstract:

Following a year of ethnographic fieldwork in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, I analyze how the humanitarian cross-border operation is put into practice by a heterogeneous group of aid organizations and aid workers using a remote management approach to reach people in need inside Syria.

Paper long abstract:

The Syrian conflict is the biggest humanitarian challenge since the Second World War. The aid industry has been overwhelmed by a lack of funding, the political polarization and difficult access to millions of people in need. Some humanitarian actors have been providing cross-border and cross-line aid since the beginning of the conflict and successive UN resolutions (2139, 2165, 2191, 2258) have created an international legal framework for a 'humanitarian cross-border operation'. The term is not legally defined but "it is commonly employed to refer to the provision of assistance from the territory of third states" (Gillard, 2013:352).

Practices of 'remote control', 'remote management programming', 'limited access programming' and 'remote partnership' have been employed in many varying ways in Somalia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka or Sudan, producing practices that transfer risks and redistribute the responsibilities from internationals to national or local aid workers and organizations (Stoddard et al, 2006, 2009, 2010; Egeland et al, 2011; Gillard, 2013; Autesserre, 2014; Smirl, 2015; Anderson & Weigand, 2015).

The Syrian humanitarian challenge is even more complex because the operation does not have the support of any peacekeepers and remoteness here implies crossing national borders. It entails negotiating with different governments and opposition groups with various political agendas, dealing with national and international laws and administrations, and involves overlapped categories of local, national and international aid workers and organisations with unequal power and practices. In addition to examining humanitarian cross-border practices, this paper also investigates previous remote management experiences and how this knowledge/experience is reused in everyday work-life practices.

Panel P016
The return of remoteness: insecurity, isolation and connectivity in the new world disorder