"Relief as a neutral form of aid or a political-communal mobilization? Doing politics in emergencies and war and the politics of aid in Lebanon"

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Drawing on the experiences of several activists, experts, and individuals involved in the provision of aid and relief during and after the 2006 July war on Lebanon, this case study explores the issues of neutrality and local commitment in providing assistance during war and conflict. It aims at placing the humanitarian principle of neutrality, a global principle of humanitarian assistance that posits a specific form and stance in providing aid, in conversation with local forms of political and communal mobilization of relief. The purpose of this paper is to unveil the assumptions embedded in the concept of “neutral aid”, and the type of politics that apolitical humanitarian action and intervention posit and produce, addressing questions relevant to providing or imposing a neutral form of aid in a politically-charged environment, and the way international professionalized NGOs collaborate and interact with local actors. The paper then proposes a set of recommendations for humanitarian action and practice in Lebanon.