Histories of humanitarian action in the Middle East and North Africa

Working and discussion papers
September 2014
Edited by Eleanor Davey and Eva Svoboda, authored by Dima de Clerck, Shaden Khallaf, Asher Orkaby, Emanuel Schaeublin, Keith David Watenpaugh, Tom Woerner-Powell and keynote lecture by His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan Bin Talal

There is a rich history of humanitarian action in the Middle East and North Africa, from Zakat committees, responses to displacement across the Middle East and leading humanitarian figures like Amir Abd al-Qādir, the symbolic father of Algeria, military leader and advocate for humane practices in times of war.

But this history is often overlooked and poorly understood in comparison to the formal humanitarian system. This collection of papers, based on a joint conference with the Arab Thought Forum, offers an introduction to the history and concepts of humanitarian action in the Middle East and North Africa.

Touching on key subjects such as Islamic transitions and Zakat committees, traditions of asylum, relief efforts in Jerusalem, Beirut and Baghdad during the First World War, responses to the Yemeni civil war and resettlement and reconciliation in post-civil war Lebanon, this collection seeks to highlight examples of historical perspectives that may shed light on humanitarian action today.