Zimbabwe: Building peace

Erik Volkmar (Director)
Medair sends an emergency team to Zimbabwe. As with each new project,several people ask us on what criteria we base our choices of countries.

The question is quite legitimate. Why did we help flood victims in Mozambique in 2000 and not those in Dresde or in Prague in 2002? Why intervene today in Zimbabwe rather than in Palestine?

From its beginning, Medair has been obliged by the limitations of its resources to "choose" in which countries it intervenes. That is why, in 1996, we defined 25 criteria as guidelines for this selection procedure.

The first priority is intimately tied to our humanitarian mandate: is our intervention likely to save many lives? The second criterion is inseparable from the first: will the level of vulnerability of survivors be a vital factor in the help Medair gives them in their reestablishment to a respectable life-style after the crisis?

As a general rule, the most "vulnerable" are the inhabitants in countries at war, usually when it has been lasting for several years (we are speaking here of "complex urgencies" such as Sudan, Afghanistan, Angola and Congo). People in countries at the bottom of the human development list are also in a vulnerable position.

All sorts of circumstances can come and aggravate this vulnerability: political (Zimbabwe), epidemic (AIDS in Africa) or media coverage (forgotten crises as in the DR of Congo).

Our choice is also complicated by the requirements of organisation: do we have the competent personnel, can we get the necessary funds, does this country and the type of programme come within our global strategy, will security be at an acceptable level? These are the kind of questions that our Management Team must reply to before the final decision is made. This is why Medair does not work in Palestine (could we save many lives?), in Germany or in the Czech Republic (both are counted among the 35 most-developed countries).

Zimbabwe is one of the 50 least-developed countries and is plunging into political and economic crises as never before. So Medair has decided to become involved alongside of local churches, so as to avoid, while there is time, a food deficiency that could quickly turn into a famine.

Thank you for becoming involved to help us.