Well, yes, you can sorta understand the point

Médecins Sans Frontières, the medical NGO, is riddled with institutional racism and bolsters colonialism in its humanitarian work, according to an internal statement signed by 1,000 current and former members of staff.

Here are all these – largely – Europeans doing largely European and American invented stuff, for free, to all these much poorer and darker people. All largely paid for by Europeans and Americans.

Among personal testimonies from signatories cited by the Guardian, one complained of an “almost suffocating” white saviour mentality.

Could be really, could be.

20 thoughts on “Well, yes, you can sorta understand the point”

  1. No doubt those actually being saved don’t give a damn about the race of their saviours or those who fund them. Presumably MSF accepts funding irrespective of race and doesn’t care what race their volunteers are.

  2. A cynical if realistic view of life is that the more sheltered from criticism an organisation is, the worse its members will behave.

  3. I suppose repeatedly saving the lives of people apparently incapable of maintaining a speck of civilisation – despite decades of assistance – might lead to feelings of superiority.

    What do these fuckers want exactly? For MSF to change its name to Baiser Les Nègres and ignore Africa altogether?

  4. I used to send money to Water Aid back when I naively thought that I was doing my bit to make the world a better place. Now I see their TV ads and think, why have these people not built their own infrastructure by now? People knew how to build wells in Biblical times. Are these people really so stupid that they allow their livestock to piss in their water supply? Now they are complaining that MSF are treating them like children.

  5. We should let Africa get on with it on their own terms.
    Half a century of aid to the continent to the tune of several trillions of dollars has improved their lot not one iota.
    If you swapped the population of say, South Africa with Europeans, say mebbe Dutch farmers, you would get a prosperous country within a few generations.
    Perhaps we should try it to find out..

  6. Does MSF impose its Saving Services on unwilling recipients?

    It has just struck me that the same sort of question could be asked about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. If the man beaten up by the thieves was an observant Jew, how did he feel about being forced to accept help from an ‘unclean’ Samaritan. I’ve never heard a sermon address that question.

  7. “I used to send money to Water Aid back when I naively thought that I was doing my bit to make the world a better place. Now I see their TV ads and think, why have these people not built their own infrastructure by now?”

    Indeed, when I was still in short trousers our school adopted an African village in order to fund a water supply. Mrs W’s school had a similar arrangement. So, like Stoneyground, my piss is boiled by these ads which appear every 10 minutes on channel 5.

  8. “Here are all these – largely – Europeans”

    I think this is a bit misleading, a lot of the staff on the ground are either locals or people hired from other Global South countries. For one thing a British doctor isn’t going to be raking it in from a typical MSF contract whereas if you’re African or Indian, it’s a very attractive deal financially. Not as good as getting to the West to practise but with MSF you might have a better chance of getting the job, because skills like speaking Swahili/Arabic/French/local languages are more valued in that context. For someone from a more violent country, even experience dealing with armed groups at a checkpoint is counted as a big plus in the aid world as you may end up having to deal with that situation a lot. Obviously aid groups hire local guides, fixers and translators to help with this stuff but I think many readers would be surprised how many Global South staff they take on in medical, nursing, epidemiological and nursing roles.

    Based on the Guardian version of this story seems that about half of the middle managers are Global South too. Now from what I’ve heard about life in such an organisation, the Global North staff are more likely to believe they are selfless (in a sense they are, better pay back home) and indeed saviour types, and there can also be a belief their qualifications/training are superior to the local staff (even though local staff will actually have more experience and training in local diseases and conditions, and many did at least part of their training in the West – scholarships specifically for students from developing countries and a growing Global South middle class are both Things). I can see why those attitudes would irk. More so when the Western staff are often on higher salaries and the fact the very top level management is almost exclusively white, and they are deciding strategic priorities often quite separately from the communities they see themselves as serving – “I decide what’s good for thee” being typical of a saviour complex.

  9. Incidentally a lot of the comments section attitudes to Africa seem thirty years out of date. To be fair the media coverage of Africa also seems to have got stuck in a time warp circa the Ethiopian famine. And TV ads for aid charities play to the stereotypes because they want you to feel sorry for poor African people so you hand the aid group your money – with the counterproductive result of putting people off the idea of holidaying, trading or investing in Africa and giving a pretty poor impression of Africans as a collectively helpless and undynamic people.

    As Timmy has pointed out many times, last few decades have seen very strong economic growth in poorer areas of the world and levels of poverty reduction unprecedented in human history. Africa as a whole has been a big part of that story. And yes that’s come with some exceptions but even places you might reasonably think have been too busy blowing each other to pieces have had surprising growth. Somalia has been economically dynamic – with private efforts establishing a mobile phone network even when the absence of a national government meant the state couldn’t – and during the devastating civil war its per capita GDP actually doubled. This isn’t the West, it’s not even Eastern Europe or China, but it’s not the Stone Age either.

  10. And then there was that French politician who got pulled over by les flics. He couldn’t produce the car’s documents because MSF owned the Porsche.

  11. I’m getting a similar feeling to the Scottish independence referendum; having supported them in the past (the Union; practical overseas aid), this sort of complaint just makes me think “fine, if that’s how you feel, we’ll leave you to it”.

  12. Decnine- Samaritans’ were israelites, read the torah in hebrew, just didnt have the books of the prophets and others. They obeyed the mosaic law, were circumcised on the 8th day and so on. Because of this I doubted that they would regard each other as impure i.e.akin to gentiles, and all the samaritan thing was about just different denominational stuff but yeah apparently they did- elsewhere in the bible, in john it says they can’t drink from the same well as judaism followers, so the feeling was mutual. – oh yeah and they still exist today as a small minority in Israel.

  13. @MBE
    the fact the very top level management is almost exclusively white

    Look what happened when a Global Southerner took charge of WHO

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    MyBurningEars July 11, 2020 at 9:44 am – “and there can also be a belief their qualifications/training are superior to the local staff (even though local staff will actually have more experience and training in local diseases and conditions, and many did at least part of their training in the West”

    Yes, so strange that there might be such a belief. It is almost as if people from functioning countries with functioning medical systems might know a thing or two about how to run a functional medical service. Weird. You see that a third of Pakistani air pilots have fake qualifications?

    “I can see why those attitudes would irk.”

    When I throw my dog a bone, he licks my hand. So I don’t.

    “and they are deciding strategic priorities often quite separately from the communities they see themselves as serving – “I decide what’s good for thee” being typical of a saviour complex.”

    Indeed. When Salk cured polio did he consult the African version of the Golgafrinchian B Ark? I bet he did not. He should have obviously. How else would he know if they wanted it applied nasally or not?

    If the grossly dysfunctional do not want to be patronised by the competent, they can cure their own diseases. What this is about is the utterly unqualified demanding free stuff from gutless Whites.

    MyBurningEars July 11, 2020 at 9:58 am – “with the counterproductive result of putting people off the idea of holidaying, trading or investing in Africa and giving a pretty poor impression of Africans as a collectively helpless and undynamic people.”

    That is somewhat mind boggling. It is so peak Guardian. Know what else puts people of holidaying in Africa? Gang rape and Yellow fever.

    “As Timmy has pointed out many times, last few decades have seen very strong economic growth in poorer areas of the world and levels of poverty reduction unprecedented in human history.”

    That is, in China. China being so big it makes the rest of the world look good.

    “Africa as a whole has been a big part of that story.”

    Is anyone that ignorant they buy this nonsense? In 1970 Africa was about 3% of global manufacturing. In 2000 it was 2. They are nicer to Chinese mining companies and they have allowed the importation of an educated class of Chinese managers. But not much more.

    “Somalia has been economically dynamic – with private efforts establishing a mobile phone network even when the absence of a national government meant the state couldn’t”

    Even? Because? What’s the difference?

    “and during the devastating civil war its per capita GDP actually doubled. This isn’t the West, it’s not even Eastern Europe or China, but it’s not the Stone Age either.”

    No. They did not have Technicals in the Stone Age. But outside of South Africa, and to a limited extent Nigeria, they can’t make even those.

  15. MBE: When I hear the charities talking about ‘The horror, the horror’, I just look at a picture of the locals. They don’t look anything like the Tarzan stories I got my education about Africa from when I was a kid.

    So since they seem reasonably well dressed with a reasonably modern looking technology, I don’t give them any money. But I wasn’t going to do so anyway, so I suppose that’s just confirmation bias.

    As for the white management of MSF, provided the blacks provide the money I’ve no objection to them providing the management as well.

  16. What’s happened to Steve?

    Enjoyed his posts

    @Stonyground
    I saw the light early on. Criticised BandAid in 1980s

  17. ‘Médecins Sans Frontières, the medical NGO, is riddled with institutional racism and bolsters colonialism in its humanitarian work, according to an internal statement signed by 1,000 current and former members of staff.’

    I will say it is difficult to get the colonialist mentality out of Westerners.

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