The director general of Médecins du Monde explains how they use this tool to obtain donors, as it is the quickest and most effective way, as they have extensive experience in this and know how to benefit from this practice.
The humanitarian aid sector has become more professionalised, and many companies are now dedicated to it, which is a new activity that is booming, the so-called humanitarian tourism. This type of tourism allows people to volunteer in a developing country for a high amount of money. Contrary to this doctrine of the commodification of humanisation, in Cambodia, awareness-raising campaigns are being carried out in which children are displayed in showcases while tourists take photos of them (with the slogan "children are not tourist attractions", in order to denounce companies involved in humanitarian tourism). It is important to add that humanitarian tourism organisations use slogans typical of an amusement park and play on the precarious situation of children.
On the other hand, there are also child protection NGOs behind these companies, which consider that children have become a tourist destination, and think that donors have good intentions, but that sometimes this is not enough to eradicate this barbaric measure.
Orphaned children come from areas at risk of social exclusion and remote areas, and many of them are not orphans as they make themselves known, they are separated from their families and sent to tourist areas due to the precarious situation they live in their homes and the money they receive for lending them helps them to alleviate this situation.
Why are substandard houses called shelters being built? The UN estimates to have built around 3000 temporary shelters, years have passed and they are still investing in this when in reality it does not benefit the population at all, the big organisations do not have a vision of development but of patches wrapped in capitalism. A UN worker confesses that they have such a colossal budget that it is practically impossible for them to spend it, giving the example of people who work 24 hours to be able to spend part of the big budget, but if this budget is so big, why do those affected by the catastrophe in Haiti still not have stable housing and an improvement in society after so many years of the catastrophe?
International cooperation does not really help the development of countries. Emergency works are very profitable, and there are companies that are even specialising in it, because when they are needed, both the state and the organisations turn to these private companies.
When the earthquake in Haiti happened, some people saw the opportunity to make a profit, because of the foreign aid they were going to receive, catastrophes can be big business for those who take advantage of it.
In Haiti there are hundreds of NGOs, but they act in a disorganised way, without attending to the needs of the population, doing incoherent actions. They use people in need as a means to activate their business. In 2014 there were still between 270 and 1000 organisations, while society continues to live in poverty and in dire situations.
The abuse of these NGOs and their lack of control on Haitian territory is immense. One such example is an American organisation, Grace International, founded by a Haitian evangelical pastor. This pastor asked people to help improve Haiti, he wanted to bring material and spiritual aid to those most in need. This NGO earns about 2,400,000,000 euros. The NGO in Haiti has numerous buildings, as well as the second largest refugee camp in Port-au-Prince with 17,000 people. On its website it shows these refugees as happy and content, but the reality of this camp, which is quite hidden behind walls, wire and gate surveillance, is that the refugees were forced to pay a fee of about 4 euros as rent, if this payment is not made they are thrown out of the camp and their homes are destroyed, even beating and blackmailing these people in exchange for sex. The leader of the camp, the son of the NGO's founding pastor, denies all these claims and accusations against them. The image of the camp is of refugees living in abject poverty, far from what they claim on their website. This NGO has managed to make a business out of the human need of the refugees.
Due to all these events on the island, there has been discontent with the NGOs. Western countries have allocated millions of euros for these underprivileged people, of which it seems that practically nothing has reached them, as poverty and human need are still present on the island. Despite all this, NGOs are indispensable in disaster relief and management all over the world, saving hundreds of thousands of lives, the question is whether they should look at long-term development, thus achieving their effectiveness on the ground, but also giving credibility to their work and thus giving hope to the caring people who want to continue to donate and help all these people in human need.
All this shows that NGOs operate in a capitalist social system where solidarity and humanity are played with (which often serves to cleanse the conscience of the individual and that is why many popular figures invest in them) and, although they play a fundamental role, this does nothing more, on most occasions, than produce and reproduce precarious situations. This makes the work of social workers and their working environment diffuse and unconnected with the real purpose that they are supposed to have, which is to propose structural changes, with the help of social policies, in order to eradicate, even if only in a small part, these impoverished situations.