The Effectiveness of Neutrality in Humanitarian Aid During the Algerian Conflict, 1954–1962

By Ivanna Guerra

As stated in my original proposal, I used my funds for travel to the ICRC archives in Geneva Switzerland. My experience there was exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time! First of all, I did not have the confidence in my French to be able to speak it with people, which was interesting when I tried to order food! However, it all turned out alright as I found a plethora of rich archives that I used in my thesis.

With the help of the head archivist, Fabrizio Benzi, I was able to locate the ICRC documents for the missions in Algeria during 1954–1956 in the General Archive. The challenge for me was to look at the many boxes in a matter of three days as the archives were closed on Fridays and during the week of my visit, they were closed on Thursday. (I found out the day I got there!)

Still, I found and read the ICRC reports. It was difficult to browse them all at one time, so I would take pictures, then read the reports in my hotel room, also paid for by the Evalyn Clark Scholarship. Overall, it was a great experience. I believe it is what I needed to understand the workings of the ICRC. I realized that my thesis was not an easy one and that the discussion of neutrality is still being debated. And less important, but worth noting, I was able to eat a lot of Swiss Chocolate, which is more than a person can ask for!