International humanitarian-assistance work is a professional discipline influenced, appropriately, as are the professions of medicine or nursing, by the loftiest ideals of civilized society. To help one's fellow man by alleviating hunger and pain, giving succor to the starving and homeless, uniting destroyed families and recreating destroyed societies is the noble goal of humanitarian assistance. But the sheer scope and extent of the human calamities that follow conflicts and disasters make most individual efforts in such situations touching but ineffectual. Unless humanitarian assistance is carefully planned, coordinated and delivered, with understanding and sensitivity, it often produces more harm and pain to individual victims and fragile communities; it also endangers and frustrates the very donors who wish to help.