Browse by Theme: Conflict & Fragility

A week ago, MSF announced that they are pulling out of the World Humanitarian Summit, slamming the process for its failure to tackle the major challenges facing efforts to protect and assist people in times of crisis. Indeed they went so far as to state that the Summit process was part of the problem – by its agenda blurring the lines between development, political and humanitarian action.

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With humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Africa and Asia having reached the shores of Europe, political attention is finally fixed at what is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time: reversing the trend of ever greater numbers of people deprived and displaced by war or natural disasters, and the failure to provide them with the dignified assistance they need. The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23 and 24 is an historic opportunity to kick-start that effort. Unfortunately, despite years of preparation and a very thorough process of consultation by the UN, I fear this opportunity is going to be missed.

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Last week the House of Lords inquiry into the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative published their conclusions and called for the initiative to be put on a much firmer footing within UK foreign policy and in the international calendar. CARE was one of many who gave written evidence and we welcome the strong report. With key events this year and four years left of this Parliament, this is a good time for the government to re-commit to this agenda and redouble its efforts on human rights.

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50 per cent of DFID’s budget is now allocated to conflict-affected and fragile states. The UK government is also demonstrating a leading role on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda with ambitious commitments made at the High-Level Review of UNSCR 1325. But is political commitment to WPS stuck at the global level? What is being done to improve the situation for women and girls on the ground?

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Last week leading donors gathered in Paris to redraw the rules of Overseas Aid, and some of the changes, including more categories of military and police assistance, are raising concerns.

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This week, days on from the #SupportingSyrians Conference, and like everyone else, I watched the news to see the devastation caused as Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes rained down on civilians in the Aleppo region and 35,000 people fled to the border with Turkey. Ten billion dollars pledged by world leaders, yet where are these leaders as Syrians cry out for protection from the violence? In the words of one Syrian activist last week, “What use is funding if the sieges prevent aid reaching those trapped inside and starving to death? What use is funding if our health clinics are bombed to the ground? What use is support for schools if barrel bombs fall on our children?”

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I met several Syrians in Jordan and Turkey during a recent visit (mid-January). All of them said they just wanted the war and the violence to stop so they could go home. Some were more hopeful than others that this would happen soon. But that’s what they all wanted.

So, what if we try to be a bit optimistic. Are we ready to respond if we get what we’re asking for?

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