World Humanitarian Summit: From May 23 to May 24 in Istanbul, Turkey, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon initiated the first World Humanitarian Summit. The summit was convened at a time period when “protracted conflict, instability, and forced displacement are the defining features of the global landscape,” and when the growth of financial needs for these crises increases significantly. The summit thus urged world leaders, organizations, and others to take more actions to aid those needs as well as to prevent further human suffering.
The summit has brought several improvements, based on voluntary commitment, for the humanitarian aid field. The first improvement is the fact that 18 governments and 16 humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, pledge to increase direct funding to local organizations – which are the first to response to crises – from 0.2% to 25% by 2020. The second improvement is to reduce the reporting processes during crises so that humanitarian organizations can focus on directly helping those in need through a common reporting template. On another note, Canada has pledged an additional $331.5 million in humanitarian aid.
However, the summit, in some opinions, did not have any major breakthroughs. One of the observations is that the summit did not bring systemic change that would fundamentally alter the current humanitarian system. For instance, one of the changes is to provide humanitarian assistance under the form of direct cash donations to beneficiaries, which is more efficient in the long run. Observers also comment that the summit had never intended to establish a binding negotiated agreement in the first place. Therefore, while the improvements in the current humanitarian system are noticeable, the end result of the summit means that the system will not change.
Lake Chad region: On May 24, in Istanbul, the UN aid chief said that the Lake Chad region of West Africa is the most neglected humanitarian crisis, resulting from poverty, desertification, and violence caused by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Many experts claim that the difference between human suffering and response is far greater than those of Syria, Iraq, or Yemen. Currently, there are more than 2.4 million people to flee their homes in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, and up to 90% of them are located in host communities. This year, UN has requested $535 million to aid the region.
As recorded in 2015, the Red Cross partners have aid more than 500,000 people in the region in terms of food, essential household items, and other necessities, as well as helping reconnecting families. The International Committee of Red Cross has provided extensive funding and trainings to volunteers and staffs to help those in need cope with their displacement and uncertain future. However, more aid is needed.
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