Browse by Theme: Refugees

I am sitting in the closing plenary of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next to women first responders - civil society partners - from Syria, Somalia and Pakistan. It's been two intensive days, at times despairing, at times inspiring, in a sprawling, labyrinthine venue apparently built as a metaphor for the process. We often didn't quite know where we were going on more than one level.

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The World Humanitarian Summit has had a rough ride over the past few months, not least from us at CARE, who have noisily demanded it engage with the need for political action and that it fully address the huge gender differences in disaster and conflict. However, to my surprise, at the end of the first day, it’s mostly achieved its aims.

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An interview with Naseer Memon of the National Humanitarian NGO Network in Pakistan

The National Humanitarian NGO Network (NHN) was established in 2010 to support joint work between national civil society organisations working in humanitarian response in Pakistan. NHN has sought to influence the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), including by developing a joint statement by national NGOs in Pakistan on the process. Naseer Memon, chief executive of SPO (Strengthening Participatory Organization – a national NGO) and current chair of NHN, shared his thoughts on the WHS.

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One of the three key goals of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23-24 May is to “reaffirm our commitment to humanity and humanitarian principles.” Sitting here in Amman, Jordan, working closely with Syrian colleagues delivering assistance inside Syria, as well as to the five million refugees who have been displaced from the country, the pressing need to reaffirm these commitments is clear.

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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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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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