Research project

Refugee camps – Security – Humanitarian professionalization

The proliferation of insecurity and the permanence of violence can be understood through out the representations of refugees on the humanitarian offer. This paper aims to understand how, in a violent universe, the representations of refugees on the humanitarian supply evolve.

The refugee site of Gado Badzeré adopts in a certain way, an urban structure, where constant presence of administrative staff recalls the authority, the power and even the constraint. The governance structure can be examined through humanitarian staff practices.

The most sensitive organisation and directly targeted by these issues is the camp management, in this case Première Urgence Internationale. Their cycle of daily activities involves familiarity with the refugees that professionals commonly encounter. The drastic responses to acts of insecurity establish power, a power of constraint or at least to participate to the constraint process. The camp management doesn’t take only the paternal figure, but it also establishes a vertical relationship.

These representations can evolve when difficulties, precariousness and complaints do not find adequate resolutions. Then, a conflictual relationship can occur, an alteration of relationships geometry and sometimes violence.

We can also note a third movement. Even if less widespread, the empowerment where refugee passes from the state of assistance to the state of autonomy. From then, the subject arises or is realized and gradually takes the distance towards the humanitarian space. Clearly, in this environment of security vulnerability, a set of representations is formed, an image of humanitarian action that is directly associated to the professionals who operate in the site and whose evolution can very often be a factor of insecurity.