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6 Life with Dignity: What Is the Minimum Standard?

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Chapter Summary

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives top priority to the "recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family". And yet respect for human dignity is too often the first casualty of emergency responses to assist refugees. How far do humanitarian agencies really go to actualize commitment to life with dignity? Humanitarian agencies are finding themselves in situations where they must be more circumspect and re-evaluate their approach to these brutal and unthinkable situations. Rather than responding to acts of nature, aid workers are directly confronting consequences of unconscionable abuses of even the most basic human rights and perverse humiliation of life in exile. One cannot ignore the psychic turmoil of a people deprived of civil society, family integrity, a sense of optimism for future, and control over personal destiny, the most profound deficiency, however, is loss of dignity.

Keywords: aid workers; human dignity; human rights; humanitarian agencies; refugees



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