“THE CONFLICT ZONE WAS HIS COMFORT ZONE” – Health and Human Rights Conference 2016

Day 2 of the Health and Human Rights conference was very humbling, eye-opening and interactive. Things kicked off with a special keynote from a refugee student: James T. Madhier. Born during a vicious civil war in Southern Sudan, he grew up without knowing the difference between violence and peace. He shared a very honest anecdote of his grueling experiences, touching upon the drastic differences in living conditions of people from regions of conflict. He used to wake up and go to sleep to the sound of bullets. Mid-afternoon, he’d hear the sound of explosions and bombs destroying parts of his neighborhood. Over the years, he learned to distinguish between the sound of planes that dropped bo

How To Retain Your Intellectual Independence: Lessons from Justin Podur at HHR

Justin Podur, a Toronto-based author and political analyst, started his talk at the Health and Human Rights Conference arguing that a nuanced political understanding is critical to gain perspective as a humanitarian aid worker. An understanding of the historical and political context of a region should always precede travel, because these regions are not simply passive recipients of aid but complex systems. He explained that, as a humanitarian, it might make sense to focus on the current period of crisis, but it’s important to remember that they are merely consequential events on a much longer timescale. Through his extensive journalistic experience in conflict zones, Podur warned of the in

Humanitarianism and Constant Conflict: Dr. Leslie Shanks’ HHR Keynote Address

UTIHP’s Health and Human Rights Conference took place over two days, providing attendees with an enriching experience on medical humanitarian interventions in conflict zones. The first day of the conference welcomed Dr. Leslie Shanks as the keynote speaker. Dr. Shanks began her work with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 1994 in the former Yugoslavia. MSF worked closely with the UN Peacekeeping forces, who supplied them with bulletproof vests and armored cars. The Serbian forces did not feel the UN (and by extension, MSF) maintained neutrality in the region, and began targeting MSF aid workers. Dr. Shanks herself narrowly avoided a shell aimed at their vehicle as her team was targeted at the

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