Humanitarian practices vs. social rights advocacy: NGOs role in migrants' health care

N Gottlieb, D Filc, N Davidovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Migration, whether forced by persecution or disasters or resulting of the economic inequalities between North and South, puts people in subordinated situations in which their basic human rights may be violated. While the recognition of basic social rights has developed historically after the recognition of civic and political rights, their violation puts immigrants at a serious risk, since the violation of basic social rights means obstacles in access to basic needs such as nutrition, housing, education and health care. Humanitarian NGOs became an alternative source that partially fills the vacuum in the provision of social welfare services, but in many cases help to build legitimacy for the state’s retreat from responsibility. Human right organizations play an important role in advocating for migrants, but on the other hand can promote a legalistic and individualized perception of the migrant’s condition. In 2007, following a dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving to Israel, an intense internal debate took place within PHR-Israel concerning the proposal to temporarily close their Migrant and Refugees Open Clinic in order to press the government to take responsibility for the provision of health care services to the increasing number of asylumseekers. Using the protocols of the meetings and in-depth interviews the article will analyse the interactions and tensions between the humanitarian and the human rights’ discourses including their limitations within the neo-liberal context of health care systems configuration. The analysis of this case study has a significant relevance for the understanding of the current role of NGOs in migrants’ health care policies in the context of globalization, transnational migration, neo-liberal public policies as well as bottomup initiatives of ethnic, racial and class communities that struggle for their right to health.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)278-278
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSupplement 1
StatePublished - 2010


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