Browse by Theme: Humanitarian

Every year, hundreds of women’s rights activists come to New York to lobby governments in the United Nations on gender equality during the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year, CARE International has partnered with UN Women and the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat to convene a workshop during CSW to consult activists from countries torn apart by war and natural disasters on how to better protect and empower women and girls in times of crisis.

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This week, a major international donor conference took place in Brussels to plan the rebuilding of Ebola hit countries. Having just recently returned from Sierra Leone and Liberia, I was hoping to see a gender transformative approach informing donor commitment – because I had seen for myself how the impact of the crisis is affecting women and girls.

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I am currently in Budapest, Hungary, attending the second of two days of regional consultations. This is the fourth in a series of regional consultations leading up to the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) taking place in Istanbul. The WHS will be a major event. It will be the first-ever global humanitarian summit of this scale. It also has an ambitious goal: the summit aims to find new ways to tackle humanitarian needs in our fast-changing world – a topic close to the heart of CARE’s work.

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Ten years ago on Boxing Day, the Indian Ocean tsunamis crashed into the shorelines of 14 countries, killing more than 228,000 people and making almost two million more people homeless and bereaved. The scale of the disaster and the speed with which entire towns and communities were swept away was something the modern world had never seen before. This was to change the way we prepare for and respond to crises forever.

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After natural disasters the phrase ‘Build Back Better’ is a constant refrain from politicians, donors, aid agencies and the media. This short, alliterative phrase has captured the imagination, and seems at first glance to be a simple, powerful and necessary principle. But is it the best message about what we do?

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In 2011, it took 16 official warnings of a food security crisis before famine was finally declared in Somalia. The human cost of this was at least 260,000 lives, half of which belonged to young children. The financial cost of this was at least three times more than it would have been had early preventive action been taken. The Guardian dubbed it ‘the avoidable disaster’ and NGOs, donors and the international community at large swore it would never happen again. Yet three years later, we find ourselves in uncomfortably familiar territory.

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Yesterday (22 September 2014) at the UN General Assembly in New York, John Kerry, US Secretary of State, convened a ministerial meeting to review progress on the Call to Action on Violence Against Women and Girls in Emergencies. What were the highlights and key points? And what needs to happen to get the Call to Action out of the ‘gender silo’ and into the heart of wider humanitarian reforms ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016?

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