SONGSOPTOK: Let us forget for a moment the UN definition of ‘humanitarianism’. What is your personal definition? In what context would you apply the word?
STEVE BAKER: Helping people who need help.

SONGSOPTOK: What, according to you, are the specific types of events that call for humanitarian actions?
STEVE BAKER: Hunger, abuse, war, natural disasters, poverty.

SONGSOPTOK:  Why, in your opinion, do countries and societies even need humanitarian actions, often initiated and coordinated by the so called first world economies?
STEVE BAKER: Because those problems in the previous question exist, and we’re all in the same boat.

SONGSOPTOK: Can individuals play a significant role in initiating or participating in humanitarian actions? In what way?
STEVE BAKER: Of course they can. Without individuals, there can be no mass actions.

SONGSOPTOK:  What should be the role of the world community, especially organizations like the UN, to encourage humanitarian actions in different countries, especially those suffering from internal war or external aggression? Do you think that their efforts are sufficient? If not, what else should be done to help the countries / societies / populations in need?
STEVE BAKER: I don’t really know what more can be done.

SONGSOPTOK: What should ideally be the role of the governments in humanitarian actions – both in afflicted countries and in the other countries of the world? Are government activities sufficient in this context?
STEVE BAKER: I think both private and government responses are necessary.

 SONGSOPTOK In your opinion, do religious institutions play an important role in humanitarian actions? In your own experience, what kind of actions have you witnessed that have been pioneered by religious institutions?
STEVE BAKER: I think they do sometimes. I don’t know of any specific actions. Mother Teresa?

SONGSOPTOK:  Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) are often in the forefront of humanitarian actions and yet there have been widespread criticism about the efficacy and utility of NGOs in different countries, especially in Asia & Africa. What is your own experience? Should NGOs be given more power and independence where humanitarian actions are concerned?
STEVE BAKER: No. I’m already unhappy with the amount of money some of these organizations actually utilize for the benefit of othes.

SONGSOPTOK:  What should be the aim of humanitarian actions in afflicted countries – short term relief or long term actions that would help societies build up their own strengths and resources? Please share your knowledge or experience about long term actions undertaken anywhere in the world.
STEVE BAKER:  I don’t really know except that I think people should be made self-sufficient where possible.

SONGSOPTOK: It is often seen that the strongest help and support comes from within the communities affected by conflicts or natural disasters. How, in your opinion, can communities be empowered to successfully face such situations? What, in this context, could be the role of formal or informal grassroots organizations?
STEVE BAKER: I believe the rich must be made to pay their fair share. That means raising taxes on the rich, especially in the US.

SONGSOPTOK: Women and children are most vulnerable in situations of conflicts or disasters. What, according to you, are the specific actions that need to be taken to ensure the safety and security of women and children?
STEVE BAKER: I really couldn’t say.

SONGSOPTOK: How do you, as an individual, practice humanitarianism? Is it an important part of your value system & mental make-up? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us.
STEVE BAKER: It is important to me and should probably be more important. There are several organizations I contribute to annually.



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