Browse by Theme: Humanitarian

Back in 2013, a senior UN policy-maker told CARE: “Gender isn’t summit-worthy.” Since then, concerted advocacy by hundreds of women and men has turned this around. CARE has played a leading role by co-convening the first global consultation with over 40 women from every region with the WHS Secretariat, and following up at the national level in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jordan and elsewhere. So what can we expect from the Summit, and what are the next steps?

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Currently an average of only 0.2% of global humanitarian aid goes directly to local or national NGOs and civil society organisations. Multiple studies have shown that local capacity is often significantly underutilised, undervalued and overlooked by larger international organisations.

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From afar, the southern African countries of Madagascar and Malawi will not figure in conversations about the disasters affecting the world. When I told people I was going there on an emergency response deployment they looked at me baffled and asked: “Why – what’s happening there?”

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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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People have a certain image of what constitutes an emergency. To someone you ask in the street they would probably imagine panic, chaos and people desperately trying to save their families. And that is true but not always the case, as emergencies get more drawn out due to long-standing conflict, like in Syria, or are slow-burning crises such as Ethiopia’s drought brought on by the climate impacts of El Nino. In these situations, emergency is embedded in everyday life – thinking about the safest route to go to the market or children dropping out of school becomes a part of daily life. And this is when it is not so easy to differentiate humanitarian and development approaches as short-term creeps into long-term.

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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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