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In A Bed for the Night1, David Rieff2 explains his frustration at the lim- itations and Rieff frequently gives in to his penchant for extreme positions. He dis-. A Bed for the Night has ratings and 36 reviews. Alisa said: Ok, so I did not give this book four stars because I thought it was much fun to read. Had. David Rieff’s A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis is an emotionally raw and deeply personal argument that humanitarian organizations must be free.

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Noted journalist Rieff Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West presents a painful, urgent and penetrating discussion of a crisis most of us didn’t even know existed and yet which cuts to the heart of the West’s role in some of the most violent world events of the past decade. He will shake readers’ complacency about the relief work done by organizations like Oxfam, CARE and Doctors without Borders, crushing the belief that humanitarian aid is a panacea for all the world’s ills.

“A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis” by David Rieff

Rieff rejects “the false morality play” that, in any given conflict, there are victimizers and innocent victims, and that it is always clear who is who. In Rwanda, for instance, he reports that aid workers went xavid refugee camps threatened with cholera—but the “victims” they helped, the Hutu refugees, were in fact the killers who had committed, and were planning to resume, the genocide of the Tutsis.


Rieff’s despair over such incidents is palpable, but his rage is reserved for the Western governments that fund, and exploit, the aid organizations. In his most potent chapters, Rieff excoriates the U.

Rieff shows how humanitarian organizations have colluded in their own exploitation by Western donor governments, as they have become confused about their mission and purpose.

Originally, he explains, these groups were independent, politically neutral agents, with the limited goal of bringing relief in famine or war.

But simply bringing relief—and making no change in the political and economic realities that create need—can be frustrating work.


Hoping to increase their effectiveness, some aid organizations have espoused larger goals, such as human rights or even opposing oppressive governments—as in the war in Afghanistan, in which aid groups took orders from the U. Much of what Rieff says will be unpalatable particularly to some on the left—for instance, his assertion that development aid creates dependency in recipient countries and that humanitarian aid is a latter-day version of the “white man’s burden”; and his conviction that wars—including the war in Afghanistan—can be necessary and just.


None of his criticism of humanitarian groups diminishes his admiration for those he calls “the last of the just” for their dedication and courage in aiding the needy. Still, he writes of the current state of the world, “I see little if any empirical basis for optimism. View Full Version of PW.

A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis David Rieff, Author. More By and About Tor Author. Discover what to read next.

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