IRIN's top reads this week

Want to stay on top of the current debate around humanitarian and development issues without having to spend hours surfing the web?

Welcome to IRIN's reading list.

Every week our global network of specialist correspondents will share some of their top picks of recent must-read research, reports, blogs and in-depth articles while also highlighting key upcoming conferences and policy debates.

Five to read:

ISIS at the border

Two years ago, few people would have heard of the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, but thanks to its location 64km from the Syrian border, it has been transformed into a multi-way hub for fighters, intelligence officers, refugees and aid workers. This New Yorker piece offers a fascinating narrative deep dive into the goings-on in Gaziantep, from the challenges of aid distribution teams to meetings with rebel leaders in silk suits. It also provides an informative explanation of US policy on Syria.

Aid. Industry

When people call the aid sector an industry, the connotation is sometimes negative - that instead of helping people, the relieving of suffering has become a monetarized industry from which people are personally profiting. But this blogger argues we should see the aid sector as an industry in order to be able to apply the same rules to humanitarian and development relief as we do to efficient private sector enterprise, such as certification and regulation of people and processes.

Ongoing Displacement: A profile of Iraq

This International Organization for Migration report delivers a detailed picture of Iraq’s displacement crisis. It is a long and meaty study, packed full of graphics and timelines based on a series of household surveys and qualitative studies. It looks at the different waves of displacement during 2014 - as well as explaining historic population movements - and presents an overview of the socio-economic conditions and coping mechanisms of internally displaced Iraqis who now number more than two million. A must-read to understand the challenges of the humanitarian response in Iraq.

Faking it: Charity Communications in The Firing Line

If it’s all in a good cause, does it really matter if you stretch the truth a little bit in order to grab people’s attention? What if you inflate the numbers to make the displacement crisis seem more serious? Repeat unsubstantiated rumours about sexual assaults? Or take a picture of a refugee to make him look alone when actually their parents were right there next to them? Or even film a fake shooting of a Syrian boy and present it as real? When does charity/humanitarian communication become propaganda? This blog argues there is enough human suffering in this world - we don’t need to embellish it to get attention.

Refugee Republic

For a colourful and interactive view of one of Iraq’s largest Syrian refugee camps check out this new multimedia presentation from Refugee Republic. Telling the story of the camp and its residents, this fascinating site is a quirky challenge to the conventional view of suffering refugees sitting in tents waiting for food aid. Watch and learn (but a warning: you’ll need powerful bandwidth).

Coming up:

Become a Digital Humanitarian in the Philippines

Web-based volunteers are needed to take part in a Digital Humanitarian Expedition mapping the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on coconut trees in the Philippines. MicroMappers need your help to sift through thousands of aerial photos (snapped by UAVs) to identify where the trees - a major source of income for the country - have been damaged and where they have survived. The “expedition” starts on Friday 5 December at 1200 GMT and will run over the weekend. Sign up online.

 

New Book:

Talking Peace in the Ogaden: The search for an end to conflict in the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia

Since the 1990s, war in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia has claimed thousands of lives. The conflict between the government of Ethiopia and the insurgent Ogaden National Liberation Front has impoverished the communities of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, swollen the refugee population in Kenya, and added to insecurity in the Somali territories of the Horn of Africa. Published by the Rift Valley Institute, author Tobias Hagmann analyses the evolution of the conflict, the changing balance of forces, and prospects for peace.

From IRIN:

Cash transfers: Good for people, bad for the community?

Are cash transfers really the great solution they are hailed to be? Not so, according to researchers in Niamey, who carried out qualitative fieldwork into cash transfers in 21 villages. While the team found plenty of happy beneficiaries, they also detected jealousy from people who had not benefited from the scheme, and simmering community conflict. Read this important piece to learn more.

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