The concept of humanitarian work seems simple: helping people in need. In practice, it turns out that humanitarians must struggle with many complex political, economic and moral challenges. This proved to be the case in Ethiopia in the 1980s.Learning from humanitarian historyThe difficulties in offering humanitarian aid already became apparent during the campaign launched in response to the Great Famine of 1876–78 in India, which was one of the first organized humanitarian efforts. Although the authorities have been criticized for their ‘live and let live’ attitude during the famine, relief measures were introduced towards the end. A Famine Relief Fund was set up in the United Kingdom and had raised £426,000 within the first few months.About 100 years later, a widespread famine affected Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. It’s one of the worst cases of famine known to man. Aid agencies blamed wealthy Western governments for not doing more, and the Ethiopian Government for not giving high enough priority to the famine. More than half of the mortality rate can be attributed to human rights abuses that caused the famine to come earlier, strike harder and extend further than would otherwise have been the case. Which was partly caused by the Ethiopian government’s inability to provide relief and stability. This proves the necessity of stable regions, which agreements like the Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve entirely.