Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lives of the Saints

The January 5 New Yorker had this intense article, The Lives of the Saints, about the UN refugee camps in Chad. It was extremely interesting and detailed. The title is a little ironic. Many tend to think of aid workers as saintly beings, doing what other cannot or will not. I'm not contrasting that image with the recent stories of abuses by UN Peace Keepers on the people they were hired to protect. I'm contrasting the saintly vision with actual human beings. Chad is considered, by the UN, to be one of the most difficult places to work. Image what that must mean for the people who aren't paid to work in the refugee camps, but who are actually refugees. The UN pays well. Many people take on such jobs, not for religious devotion to the poor, but because the benefits are many, it is prestigious, and it isn't forever. They can always go home. The article is balanced and fair to the UN workers, many of whom are afraid and frustrated by the inability to help anyone very much. Read it here.

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