Federico Motka – Feb. 9

International aid worker Federico Motka will deliver a talk titled "Rethinking Humanitarianism in a Fragmenting World: Lessons from Syria and Beyond" in LaRose Digital Theatre at 7 p.m.

Humanitarian assistance is more vital than ever throughout the world — yet the humanitarian aid industry is beset by both internal and external challenges that make the delivery of aid to those in need increasingly difficult. As crises multiply, aid and humanitarian assistance have been politicized — both inside donor states and within countries plagued by instability and civil war, where international aid workers have increasingly been the targets of violence.

Federico Motka, an international aid worker who spent a decade in the field, will reflect on all these challenges in the context of his experiences as a project manager “on the ground” both in Syria and elsewhere. He will present a critique of how humanitarian aid is organized and delivered in the conflict zones he worked in placing particular emphasis on the growing risks to aid workers as humanitarianism is bureaucratized and politicized — risks he experienced firsthand in Syria.

Since 2007, Motka has worked as an international humanitarian aid worker for a number of nongovernmental organizations, including ACTED, Welthungerhilfe and Impact Initiatives, as well as with the International Federation of Red Cross. Motka’s specialization in emergency response programming has taken him to the front lines of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in a dozen countries, including Fiji, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Haiti, Afghanistan, Peru and South Sudan.

Motka spent 2012 through 2014 in Jordan, Iraq and Syria, where he worked to coordinate humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. Joel Shelton, assistant professor of political science at Elon and a longtime colleague of Motka, will also present.