Oxford Committee for Famine Relief

Oxford Committee for Famine Relief - History


-Since 1970, United States: Oxfam-America begins with supporting relief programmes for the victims of floods in Bangladesh. In 1973, the organization moves its headquarter from Washington to Boston, yet continues to lobby the Congress, especially regarding Cambodia in 1980. Led by John Hammock from 1984 until 1995 and Raymond Offenheiser since 1997, Oxfam-America also increases in size and develops its operational capacity. It opens an advocacy office in Washington in February 1995.
-From March 1971, Bangladesh: financially speaking, Oxfam sets up its greatest relief operation for displaced people and war victims, i.e. refugees who flee towards India during the secession of Eastern Pakistan. The organization then gets involved in reconstructing and developing independent Bangladesh. Jointly with the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee), for instance, it rehabilitates war widows by creating jobs in the craft industry and selling their traditional clothes. Besides, it supports a local partner, the BRAC (Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance — then Rural Advancement — Committee), which will become the biggest NGO in the country. From 1973 onwards, the Oxford Committee also funds up to 50% of the people’s hospital established in Savar by the Maoist doctors of an organisation called GK (Gonoshastaya Kendra).
-From 1972, Mozambique: through an institute established in 1963 and based in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Oxfam discreetly funds the FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Mozambique), an armed struggle movement which fights against the Portuguese colonizer since 1964. After the independence of Socialist Mozambique in 1975, however, Oxfam is not allowed to work in the country until the famine of 1984. The organization then provides relief and sides with the FRELIMO government against the RENAMO (Resistência Nacional Mozambicana), a guerrilla which is supported by the apartheid regime in South Africa. Quoted in Joseph Hanlon’s book, for instance, a doctor of Oxfam, Chris Daniel, denies that the authorities divert food. On the contrary, the organization accuses South Africa and the RENAMO of being responsible for the famine. With Save the Children in December 1986, it calls the international community to support the Mozambican government because harvests have been partly destroyed by the rebels in the Nampula and Zambezia provinces. Besides, as Sam Barnes observes during the drought in 1991-1992, the Oxford Committee ignores the humanitarian needs on the RENAMO’s side and works only in FRELIMO areas because it wants to boycott a guerrilla which he considers to be illegitimate as compared to other liberation movements in Africa. Oxfam takes the same stand in Angola: it starts relief operations in co-operation with the Marxist government of the MPLA (Movimento Popular da Libertação de Angola) in 1989 and refuses to help the territories under the control of the UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola), which is supported by the South African army. In Great Britain, the Charity Commission eventually criticises the political commitments of the Oxford Committee in 1990. As a consequence, Oxfam-UK has to stop publicly pointing out South Africa and the RENAMO as being responsible for the famine in Mozambique. After a peace agreement in December 1992, the organization is less biased anyway and starts to work on the rebel’s side, where one of its local employees dies when walking on a mine with a RENAMO representative in Zambezia province on February 5th 1993.
-1973, Great Britain: under the aegis of a youth group formed after the Declaration of Haslemere of 1968 and led by Og Thomas, its Educational Department director, Oxfam launches and funds a leftist review, New Internationalist, with two advocacy NGOs, Christian Aid and 3W1 (Third World First, which dates from 1969 and took the name People & Planet in 1995). Brian Walker, who replaces Howard Leslie Kirkley as the head of the Oxford Committee in November 1974, also decides to allocate 5% of the organisation’s financial resources to raise the awareness of the British general public about third world issues.
-1974, Ethiopia: Oxfam-UK, which funded a first development project in the country in 1962, opens an office in Addis Ababa during the political and humanitarian crisis of 1974. In July 1973, its representative in Wollo, Tigray, had already alerted journalists of the Guardian about a famine that the Negus was trying to ignore. After the monarchy is overthrown and a Marxist junta comes to power, Oxfam-UK cannot support development activities but will come back to Ethiopia to help the victims of famine in 1984.
-From 1975, Nicaragua: because of the fighting between the Army and the Socialist Sandinistas, the Oxford Committee has to stop in 1975 its support to a farming co-operative in the region of Jalapa, whose peasants flee towards Honduras. After the downfall of Anastasio Somoza’s dictatorship and the victory of the Sandinistas in 1979, the British, Dutch, Canadian, Belgian and American sections of Oxfam come back to Nicaragua to develop communities such as the Indian and English-speaking Blacks of Las Minas and the Rama Islands in the Bluefields Bay on the Atlantic Coast. The organization, which favours the social benefits of the revolution, gets involved in the various reforms of the new regime. It takes part in the alphabetization campaign in Boaco province in 1980, backs the public health programmes of the brigadistas of Zelaya in the East in 1982, and supports the co-operatives of UNAG (Uníon Nacional de Agricultores y Ganaderos), the official peasant trade union founded in 1981. As an evidence of this deep empathy for the Sandinistas, Oxfam-UK funds a farming project in Chilote, near Managua, which expropriated big land owners of latifundios after the agrarian reform law of July 1981. It also supports an “open jail” for the former guards of Anastasio Somoza, who are employed in fieldworks. In the same vein, Oxfam begins in January 1982 to facilitate the forced transfer of Miskitos Indians who are suspected to back the opposition. Thus, the organization prepares the resettlement of 8,000 of them from the Eastern Coast Islands to Tasba Pri on the continent, whereas 10,000 others prefer to flee to a refugee camp, Mocorón, in neighbouring Honduras. But the multiplication of Contras attacks against the Sandinistas compels Oxfam to interrupt its educational and health programmes when one of its British engineers is assaulted and evacuated in May 1983. In Tasba Pri, the organization gives up supplying drinking water and equipment to the displaced people and the schools where Miskitos children were forcibly recruited into governmental militias. As a result, the proportion of funds allocated by Oxfam-UK to development in the country falls from 87% in 1980 to 47% in 1983. Emergency relief takes over to help the victims of the civil war and, sometimes, natural disasters such as the Joan Hurricane in Bluefields on the 22nd of October 1988. Yet Oxfam continues supporting the Sandinistas with its own private funds, for the conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States embargoed public aid to Socialist Nicaragua. The Oxford Committee, for instance, hands out first aid kits to the brigadistas who are in charge of driving back the Contras’ attacks against peasants during the time of harvests: this is quite strategic because coffee exports supply one third of the hard currencies needed to buy weapons in a country where half of the Government’s budget is spent on the military in 1987. Oxfam-America is even less neutral. It deals only with the Sandinistas and refuses to help the refugees who fled to neighbouring Honduras. In Washington, the organization is not allowed to export goods to Nicaragua and lobbies against President Ronald Reagan’s military support to the Contras. With religious NGOs like World Vision, it publishes a tribune in the New York Times of April 7th 1986, so as to denounce the American aid policy in Central America: regarding Honduras, it accuses the Republican Administration to favour the Miskitos Indians and to neglect Salvadorian refugees because the former fled a Socialist regime whereas the latter escaped from a far-right dictatorship allied to the United States. Other Oxfam sections are as politicized. A “post-Marxist” organisation according to Laura McDonald, the Canadian branch is one of the most supportive of the Sandinistas. From 1986 onwards, it concentrates its efforts in three directions: the peasant co-operatives of UNAG (Uníon Nacional de Agricultores y Ganadores), the farm workers of the ATC (Asociación de Trabajadores de Campo) and a governmental fishery in the village of El Astillero on the South-eastern coast. In its own country, Oxfam-Canada also asks Ottawa to increase its aid to Nicaragua and to condemn the military support of the United States to the Contras. It however criticizes the centralism of the Sandinistas. Unlike CARE-Canada, which works only with the Nicaraguan government despite its connections with Washington, Oxfam-Canada prefers to circumvent the state and to reach the population through local NGOs. The situation then changes after the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas and the victory of President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in February 1990. The end of the civil war allows humanitarian organisations to enhance the capacity building of the civil society. Followed by its Canadian, Belgian and Dutch counterparts, Oxfam-UK starts to fund the ASOCODE (Asociasíon de Organizaciones Campesinas Centroamericanas para la Cooperacíon y el Desarrollo). Launched in Managua in December 1991 to rebuild the agricultural sector of war-torn countries in Central America, this regional federation groups peasant organizations with the support of the Swedish Diakonia, the German Brot für die Welt, the Canadian CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) and the Dutch agencies ICCO (Interkerkelikje Coördinatie Commissie voor Ontwikkelingsprojecten) and HIVOS (Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking). It is very much influenced by the Nicaraguan UNAG, its biggest member, who tried to set up a similar project in 1989 to break the diplomatic isolation of the Sandinista regime. Joined by Guatemala in 1993 and managed by a Costa Rican, Wilson Campos, the ASOCODE has its headquarters in Managua, very close to the offices of UNAG. It opposes the neo-liberal economic reforms advocated by a rival organization, the CACI (Comité Centroaméricano de Coordinación Intersectorial), created in 1994 by a coalition of private companies, the FEDEPRICAP (Federación de la Entidades de la Empresa Privada de Centroamérica). Like UNAG, which frees itself from the Sandinistas’ political supervision and takes the name of the Uníon Nacional de Productores Agropecuarios Asociados after 1990, the ASOCODE does not push for a socialist revolution. Besides, it tones down its attacks against far-right dictatorships and human rights violations during its second congress in December 1993, which is officially opened by the President of Guatemala, Ramiro de León Carpio. With the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro coming up in 1992, the ASOCODE gets funding from the European Union and the World Bank because it advocates land ownership, access to credit and marketing channels for the farming products of small peasants. Moreover, it tries to promote the economic integration of Central America and to revitalize a common market which became moribund during the times of military dictatorships at the end of the 1970s. Jointly with trade unions, co-operatives and NGOs’ forums in 1994, it participates in the creation and the funding of an initiativa civil para la integración Centroamericana, which will be joined by women’s and human rights organizations, as well as by Indian communities. The problem is that the ASOCODE does not succeed in reforming the governmental agricultural policies of the region. Finally, the lobby simply becomes another institution in the aid system. While it claimed to bypass intermediaries to speak on behalf of poor peasants, it reveals the same drawbacks it used to denounce: bureaucracy, inefficiency, lack of internal democracy, appropriation of foreign funds, male predominance over an executive board which has no women until 1994 despite the fact that women make up one third of farm workers… In 1995, Wilson Campos is accused of embezzlement and is replaced the following year by a Nicaraguan, Sinforiano Caceres. At the same time, the ASOCODE changes from a regional to a supranational organization with its own projects, conferences in luxurious hostels, and a budget which increases from US$ 200,000 in 1992 to 1.5 million in 1996. As a result, explains Kees Biekart, the forum looks like a “goose that legs the golden eggs”: it shares out 60% of its subsidies among the national unions, instead of being funded by its members’ contributions.
-From 1976, Guatemala: Oxfam-UK sets up a mission with its own funds to help the victims of an earthquake which caused the death of 3,000 people in February 1976 in San Martin Jilotepeque. Unlike CARE, the organization refuses to penalize the agriculture by distributing free food. With another American NGO, World Neighbors, it rather buys and supports the local production, providing loans to peasants cooperatives in the department of Chimaltenango. Afterwards, the organization has to close down its offices and evacuate some of its staff to Mexico because the military dictatorship slaughters about 5,000 inhabitants in this region during the year 1982. The fighting degenerate into a civil war between the army and the URNG (Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca), a Marxist guerrilla coalition established in February 1982 by the EGP (Ejército Guerillero de los Pobres), the ORPA (Organización Revolucionaria del Pueblo en Armas), the FAR (Fuerza Armadas Revolucionarias) and the PGT (Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo). In such a context, Oxfam-America from 1987 on, followed by NOVIB and Oxfam-Belgium in 1989, supports the FUNDADESE (Fundación de Desarrollo Educativo Social y Económico), a Mayan organization launched under the name of ADESE (Asociación de Desarrollo Educativo Social y Económico) by María Riquiac in 1985 in Chichicastenango in the department of Quiche. Initially set up to help the orphans, the widows and the victims of military operations, the Foundation is officially recognised in 1992 and becomes a political forum for an Indian cultural reawakening. It opposes the forced displacements and military recruitments of the population into self-defence militias. Oxfam’s funding, combined with those of the Spanish IEPALA (Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina y Africa), the Inter-American Foundation, the Danish Ibis and the German Brot für die Welt, allow the FUNDADESE to extend its activities up to the regions of Sololá, Totonicapán, Chimaltenango and Quetzaltenango. In Chimaltenango in 1989, it opens a training centre called Pop Wuj and directed by Israel Sequén; in Quetzaltenango in 1993, a reception shelter for displaced people under Alberto Mazariegos’s management. The FUNDADESE gets politicized as its members are related to various forums to defend Indian rights. Israel Sequén, for instance, launches a Mayan association for human rights, Wuqub’ Noj, in 1993. As for Alberto Mazariegos, he participates in the writing of an Indian Rights Charter during the Mesa Maya forum in 1992, and he plays a leading role in the formation of several organizations: Majawil Q’ij (“New Dawn”) before the legislative elections of November 1990, Tukum Amam (“Movement of the Grandfathers”) in September 1994, and eventually N’ukuj Ajpop (“Exercise in Popular Government”). The latter is part of the FDNG (Frente Democrático Nueva Guatemala), a political front which channels the Mayan vote and wins six seats at the parliamentary elections of November 1995. Hence the representative for Quetzaltenango district, Manuela Alvarado, belongs to Tukum Amam and the Pop Wuj. Although the Mayas do not always identify with a Latino-led URNG, the FUNDADESE also keeps up links with the opposition and the guerrilla: Majawil Q’ij is close to the ORPA and the “hawks” in the Mesa Maya coalition ask for the autonomy of Indian regions. Eager not to compromise itself with the rebels, the Catholic Church thus withdraws its representatives from the forums in January 1995, after Tukum Amam took part in demonstrations in October and November 1994 to push the government and the URNG to accept Mayan peace proposals guarantying the ethnical and linguistic plurality of Guatemala. According to Kees Biekart, NOVIB is very much aware of this politicization, yet funds Tukum Amam up to US$ 35,000 a year between 1994 and 1996. Paradoxically, the rise in foreign subsidies, especially from Ibis, contributes to split the FUNDADESE from the inside, despite a will to federate Mayan development initiatives with the COMG (Consejo de Organizaciones Mayas de Guatemala) or the COINDE (Consejo de Instituciones de Desarrollo). The COMG dissociates itself from the politicization of the Foundation, while the ALMG (Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala) and a small party supported by Nobel Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú, K’amal B’e (“Pathfinder”), refuses to rally Tukum Amam during the election of November 1995. Actually, the dissipation of the FUNDADESE between development and politics goes hand in hand with a lack of internal democracy: the staff is not properly qualified, the executive board does not communicate well with the local assemblies, and the population, especially women, hardly participates in the setting up of the projects. NOVIB’s mistake, explains Kees Biekart, mainly comes from a poor coordination with the other aid agencies and a failure to follow-up the programmes. Its evaluators do not go on the field and only read the Foundation’s annual reports. It is only in 1996 that NOVIB realizes the inability of the FUNDADESE to absorb the inflow of foreign funding. Oxfam-America continues to sponsor the Foundation however.
-From 1977, Kenya: in Nairobi, Oxfam-UK supports the AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation), which dates from 1957, and starts a campaign against the dangers of milk powder, for breastfeeding immunizes babies. Such a programme follows the pamphlet that War on Want published in Great Britain in 1974 and which accused food-processing firms like Nestlé of being directly responsible for an increase in children’s malnutrition and mortality in the third world. As for NOVIB, it backs local partners that are likely to relay the information to African mothers, namely the BIG (Breastfeeding Information Group), the KCO (Kenya Consumer Organization) and the AREP (African Refugee Education Programme). Besides advocacy, the Oxford Committee also runs various relief operations in semiarid Northern Kenya, for instance with funding from the British co-operation during the drought of 1992. In 1984, the organization thus starts in Wajir a programme for Somali cattle breeders. Surrounded by war-torn countries (Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda), these regions are infested with arms and record a lot of robberies and ethnic clashes. As a result, an employee of Oxfam, Andrew Lokaala, is shot dead in the Turkana district on the eve of Christmas 1994. The organization therefore tries to solve pastoral conflicts in the area. Jointly with the American NGO World Vision, it funds peace negotiations in June 2003 to facilitate ethnic reconciliation and to set up common Ugandan and Kenyan police patrols to reduce arms smuggling from Sudan and Ethiopia. As for NOVIB, it rather works in environmental protection with the GBM (Green Belt Movement). Launched in June 1977 under the name of Save the Land Harambee, the latter was initially managed by a parastatal organisation, the NCWK (National Council of Women of Kenya), to fight against desertification and replant trees. Led by Wangari Maathai, an academic, the GBM first enjoys the support of the Forest Department and the Ministry of Environment, which supplies it with seeds until 1986. But the organization soon opposes the governmental land policy in rural and urban areas. In Nairobi, it protests and prevents the President’s plan to build new estates and destroy the Uhuru Park in 1989 and the Jeevanjee Gardens in 1991. With the end of the single-party state, the GBM then launches a civic education campaign in June 1992, the Movement for Free and Fair Elections. Altogether, it wants to monitor the presidential elections, defend human rights, denounce corruption, inform against the personality cult, abolish repressive laws, and release prisoners of conscience. Such a politicization has a lot to do with Wangari Maathai, who joins opponents like Timothy Njoya, a reverend, and Paul Muite, a lawyer. While the GBM is put aside, some of its 50,000 members move into an electoral machine. A candidate to the presidential elections of 1997 and an elected member of Parliament in 2001, Wangari Maathai eventually serves as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of Mwai Kibaki in 2003-2005. Paradoxically, she is even rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, despite her xenophobic positions for her ethnical Kikuyu group against the Indian immigrants in Kenya. Since she refuses to disavow Kikuyu tradition, she does not disapprove excision, neither does she condemn the violence of the Mungiki, a sect which appeared in 1990, or the Mau Mau rebels of the 1950s (she was the adulteress lover of one of their former chiefs, Waruru Kanja). As a matter of fact, both the Mungiki and the Mau Mau share a cult for the spirits of the forest. All the same, there are no tracks of the 20 or 30 millions of trees that the GBM pretended to have planted, especially eucalyptuses which impoverish the soils according to agronomists. Quoted by journalist Jean-Philippe Rémy, Wangari Maathai acknowledges that “this story of trees was based on a mistake. We were planting foreign species, pines or eucalyptuses. Now, we have to return to the indigenous species our ancestors have always known. There is only one solution for that: let the plants grow by themselves!”
-From 1978, Zimbabwe: in a war-torn country, Oxfam intends to start development projects when peace negotiations progress and eventually lead to the signature of the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979. Since 1971, the Oxford Committee funded the Silveira House, a Jesuit training centre which was launched in 1964 and which provided microcredits to peasants in Mangwande, less than a hundred kilometres east of the capital city. From 1969 on, this organization had to work through a Catholic association to enter the Tribal Trust Lands, for native reserves were forbidden to the Whites and only missionaries had the legal authorization to live there. Set up in the 1940s by Father Michael Hannan, the local partner of the Silveira House did not seem too strict from a religious point of view, despite the article 6 of its constitution which theoretically limited to 10% the quota of non-Catholic beneficiaries. But the civil war was going to complicate the situation, opposing the White racist regime in power in Salisbury to Black guerrillas fighting for independence. Whereas the rebels promoted the plantation of corn to feed the masses, the Silveira House sometimes supported exportation cultures like sunflowers, especially in Mutoko, where peasants could not move freely because they were grouped by the army in “protected villages”. From 1977 on, the war, forced displacements, the deliberate destruction of cornfields by soldiers, the disruption of marketing channels, smuggling and too numerous rains in the Mhondoro region contributed to reduce the farmers’ capacity to reimburse their loans. The pressures of the guerrilla also had an impact: the rebels wanted to impose “their” people, forbade the peasants to repay the loans they had taken out with governmental offices, asked for the cancellation of their debts, promised to give them seeds and fertilizers for free, and asked the missionaries to do the same. The Silveira House, where two sisters of Robert Mugabe will work, is on good terms with the independence movement however. It facilitated the release of political prisoners in 1974 and provided a tribune to famous opponents like Robert Mugabe and Abel Muzorewa. Eager to dissociate itself from the British colonizer, Oxfam also gets on well with African nationalists. It opens an office in Harare (formerly Salisbury) when South Rhodesia becomes independent and Robert Mugabe’s ZANU/PF (Zimbabwe African National Union/People’s Front) comes to power in 1980. But if the armed struggle boosted the so-called mushandirapamwe solidarity in rural communities, the post-independence period, combined with the drought of 1982-1985, brings an economic depression: the black market grows, savings club are disbanded and the repayment rate of loans continues falling until the Silveira House definitely stops its microcredits in 1990. Meanwhile, NGOs get involved in other kinds of activities to facilitate the reconstruction of the country. With the Dutch agencies NOVIB and HIVOS (Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking), Oxfam funds the rehabilitation of former guerrillas of ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union) in farming co-operatives from 1984 until 1988. The project is one of the few successes of its kind according to Roger Ridell and Mark Robinson. It suits well the demobilization programme and the revolutionary approach of Robert Mugabe’s “Marxist” government, which considers co-operatives as an intermediary stage between capitalism and socialism. A first attempt to transform ZANU fighters into cattle breeders had failed and their cooperative was closed down during three months in 1982 because the authorities suspected it of being infiltrated by ZAPU dissidents. Yet the initiators of the project got a loan from the government to buy a ranch in 1983, Harlech Farm, in Simukai, some forty kilometres south of Harare. Its production restarts in 1987 with the support, among others, of Oxfam-UK, NOVIB, the Belgian Socialist Party and the Lutheran World Federation. Unlike other governmental co-operatives which collapse at the beginning of the 1990s, Harlech Farm reaches the poorest populations and becomes sustainable. Since 1982 as well, Oxfam-UK continues supporting ORAP (Organization of Rural Associations for Progress), an NGO which was set up by one of its former consultants, Sithembiso Nyoni, in May 1981. Initially funded by SCF-Norway, then by War on Want, Christian Aid, the Norwegian People’s Aid and Oxfam American, Canadian and Dutch sections, this organization tries to enhance self-help (zenzele in Ndebele language). It is 85% Ndebele and it mainly works in Matabeleland South, where it was briefly forbidden in 1983 when the security forces repressed ZAPU dissidents. Once reconciled with the government, ORAP builds small dams and irrigation canals so as to fight against drought, jointly with the American NGO World Vision from August 1994 onwards. The organization progressively bureaucratizes and creates in 1997 a post of president for its founder Sithembiso Nyoni. A former supporter of ZAPU, the latter joined the state-party and she is member of the Central Committee of ZANU/PF. Elected member of Parliament for Makokoba (a residential suburb of Bulawayo) in 1995 and Nkayi North (in Matabeleland North) in 2008, she becomes Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development. Taking advantage of a land reform that expropriates white people from their lands from 2000 on, she tries to grab Fountain Ranch in the district of Insiza and, according to the Zimbabwean press (the Insider of July 2003), recruits veterans of the liberation war to eliminate her rivals. Her position reveals the radicalisation of the dictatorship and has consequences for Oxfam-UK. Opposed to London concerning the expropriation of farmers of British descent, Robert Mugabe’s regime forbids the organization to continue relief distribution with the World Food Programme in October 2002. The authorities accuse Oxfam-UK of favouring the opposition strongholds of the Movement for Democratic Change, especially in the district of Insiza in Matabeleland South. Actually, the regime seeks to control international aid in order to build up a reserve of 240,000 tons of cereals. Even the governmental press (The Herald) acknowledges in 2004 that this reserve is to be used as an electoral weapon to incite the population to vote for ZANU/PF. Generally speaking, the government opposes the western NGOs because it wants to hide a malnutrition which shows the failure of its land reform and results from the fall of the agricultural production after the eviction of White farmers.
-From 1979, Cambodia: Oxfam-UK intervenes in a country devastated by a genocide and ruined after the downfall of Pol Pot’s regime, the invasion by the Vietnamese army and the departure of the Red Khmers towards Thailand. The organization has to make concessions to be allowed to stay in the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. Thus, it publishes posters comparing the Red Khmers to the Nazis, but does not denounce the Vietnamese occupying troops. On the contrary, Guy Stringer, the head of Oxfam logistics in Cambodia and a former officer in the British army, accepts to pay outrageous duties to unload food in the various ports along the Mekong River. Moreover, the organization breaks its neutrality and works only on the side of Kampuchea, arguing that the Red Khmers would inevitably divert international aid to refugees in Thailand. Worse, it forbids its staff to help dissidents to escape to Bangkok the pro-Vietnamese regime of Heng Samrin. According to its Director Brian Walker, Oxfam-UK simply does not want to cross the border illegally and did send food to refugees in Thailand. But Alistair Cooke, a well-known journalist at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), criticizes the organization for its naivety in front of a communist regime. According to William Shawcross, an American press correspondent, Oxfam-UK actually yields to the pressures of Hanoi so as to capture the humanitarian business to the detriment of its most direct rivals, the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), which refuse to implement unilateral assistance. Such a position hinders the power of negotiation against the Vietnamese armed forces, who hold up access to the Cambodian hinterland, take control over the distribution of aid, divert and resell food, and forbid relief towards the Red Khmers refugee camp in Thailand. At the end of 1979, the Oxford Committee even conceals the report of Tim Lusty, a nutritionist doctor, and Malcolm Harper, the head of its mission in Phnom Penh, who could visit remote regions, yet did not discover any famine. Indeed, their conclusions contradict the statements of the Cambodian government to get more aid and food in order to strengthen its financial resources, for Pol Pot demonetarized the country and rice is the only local currency left. Actually, relief is used to pay civil servants until the reintroduction of a national currency in March 1980. Thanks to its good relationship with the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, which is not recognized by the international community, Oxfam-UK then becomes the biggest international NGOs in the country and it acts as an informal British embassy, since there is no official representation of London in Phnom Penh. As for Oxfam-America, it struggles to extend its activities in Cambodia because the government of President Ronald Reagan embargoes the pro-Vietnamese regime. According to Joel Charney and John Spragens, the organization is refused authorization to send food to Phnom Penh three times between 1982 and 1983; eight other export requests go trough however, including vehicles for a phosphates’ factory in Battambang. Oxfam-America also accuses the United States Embassy in Bangkok of spreading a rumour according to which its imported seeds are poisoned. Within Cambodia, the organization is not allowed to manage its own relief services, and it can only repair irrigation stations with NOVIB in Ksaich Sar and Polens in Prey Veng province. When the Red Khmers guerrillas looses ground, the return to peace eventually facilitate the implementation of development projects in a region, Asia, where Oxfam-UK spends 13% of its operational expenses in 1989, 13% in 1990, 17% in 1991, 14% in 1993, 11% in 1994, 14% in 1995, 12% in 1996, 10% in 1997, 15% in 1998, 18% in 1999, 24% in 2000, 22% in 2001 and 23% in 2002. With the intervention of the United Nations in 1992, the organization gets less involved in technical assistance to the authorities and shows more concern for a support to capacity building in the civil society, especially during the elections of 1993. Oxfam-Hong Kong, for instance, funds a radical feminist NGO, WAC (Womyn’s Agenda for Change), created in 2000 and autonomous in 2004.