Sierra Leone and Rwanda have some factors in common. In the late 1990s they were emerging from intense violence into considerable stability, while NGO assistance operated alongside government-to-government aid. Sierra Leone and Rwanda are both small, and all areas are physically accessible within days from the capitals. There was sufficient infrastructure for NGOs to function, and little enough for them to contribute to services, transport and communications. Also, both countries were poor: in 1997 Sierra Leone reached the bottom of the UNDP’s Human Development Index, and the World Bank reported that more than 70 per cent of Rwandans lived below the poverty line. Morally, too, assisting people who had been attacked by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone or who had survived genocide in Rwanda seemed straightforward.
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