March 02, 2024

Givers, receivers, and beneficiaries: who benefits from aid to North Korea?

Humanitarian organizations are not always motivated by goodwill alone

Humanitarian aid, as a general principle, aims to reduce human suffering wherever it is found. While from one lens this goal seems altruistic, noble, and born from a deep-seated respect for humanity, it can also have other motives.

Aid agencies and donors may have other impetuses that inspire them to take action in a certain context. Some of these motivations may be relatively benign – a member of a diaspora group may donate money to an aid agency in their home country after a natural disaster, while they do not donate after a disaster in a far-away country to which they have no connection.

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