Papers At Any Cost

Miriam Ticktin’s Where ethics and politics meet: the violence of humanitarianism in France provided me with a completely new outlook on the action and impact of “humanitarianism.” All my life, I had viewed humanitarian aid as a solely positive and beneficial means to help those in need. However, I never recognized how it can also negatively impact people in different aspects. Ticktin brings to light an unfortunate decision people who are undocumented in France must make: “They can choose to suffer from exploitation, exclusion, and poverty, or they can suffer from illness.” Many people have deliberately infected themselves with these illnesses in order to obtain papers in France. These migrants choose to cause self-inflicted harm and infect themselves with illnesses that are life-long, painful, and/or fatal in order to gain basic human rights. Where is the humanity in this? The extent to which they will go to obtain these papers demonstrates the desperation in which they have to escape their previous lives. Shouldn’t that be enough evidence of danger to their lives to allow them asylum? It’s shocking to see that in order for a human being to be treated as a human and obtain legal status, they must sacrifice or already be living in a state of illness and physical ailment. However, even with these papers, they are not given a work permit which prevents them from having the means to gain money to provide for themselves and their livelihoods all the while suffering from an illness. This exclusion of certain humanitarian practices causes people to endanger their lives to gain this humanitarian aid, thereby causing negative consequences.

The state and fate of their lives are under subjective judgment. It is up to officials to determine if these migrants are in enough physical and medical danger to receive papers, and oftentimes, those in desperate need will be denied. With increasing limitations on accepting refugees and immigrants coming from war-torn or dangerous lives, refugees and immigrants will also go to these desperate measures to prove themselves worthy of a life.

It’s disappointing and utterly shocking to see how these policies are put in place and these nations see the consequences and actions of people, yet they do nothing about it, politically or humanely, nor provide these people with a chance at life if they are desperate enough to infect themselves or prolong their illnesses in order to escape their previous livelihoods.