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Grey zones, lasting crises, forgotten conflicts: humanitarian challenges

30-06-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 842, by Fran├žois Grunewald, Laurence Tessier

Abstract of the article " Zones grises, crises durables, conflits oubliés : les défis humanitaires "

Grey zones, lasting crises and forgotten conflicts are typical of our times. Even though certain conflicts come to an end, many do not because no solution is found for the underlying causes. The great majority of these conflicts are internal and involve non-State entities; they are civil wars. Such complex and interminable crises are a challenge not only for statesmen and diplomats but also for “humanitarians”, in particular the international organizations in charge of humanitarian action. The authors examine the causes and characteristics of such conflicts. They particularly highlight the fact that unending wars not only create short-term humanitarian problems but in the long run destroy civil society. What are the solutions to such conflicts ? The authors call for a change of attitudes and a new approach to lasting crises and suggest various forms of action to be taken by the international community. While adequate measures for dealing with humanitarian issues have been found for traditional wars, lasting crises and forgotten conflicts are still awaiting a response by the humanitarian community.