EXPERT VIEWS-World Humanitarian Summit: "What will this summit deliver beyond words?"

by Megan Rowling | @meganrowling | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Sunday, 22 May 2016 09:00 GMT

Students walk on a makeshift bridge as they enter their dormitory building which is partially submerged by floodwater, at a university campus after heavy rainfall hit Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China, June 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT

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Here's what some humanitarian celebrities and aid agency heads are expecting from the summit

By Megan Rowling

ISTANBUL, May 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Governments, aid agencies, businesses and others involved in responding to crises will meet in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday at the first global summit to improve the humanitarian system.

The World Humanitarian Summit will not produce a binding agreement, but the different parts of the aid community will make commitments on ways to reduce suffering from conflicts and disasters, and deliver emergency relief more effectively.

Here's a selection of what humanitarian celebrities and aid agency heads are expecting from the summit.

BONO, CO-FOUNDER OF THE ONE CAMPAIGN AND LEAD SINGER OF U2

"More conflicts and disasters mean more vulnerable people in the world, but the safety net to catch them is full of holes. Despite the heroic efforts of the U.N. refugee agency, the World Food Programme and others, millions of refugees lack adequate shelter and food and only half of refugee children are in primary school.

Leaders need to protect long-term development funding to tackle extreme poverty while providing the humanitarian aid needed to support some of the world's most vulnerable people.

Global leaders meeting at the U.N. Humanitarian Summit... should sign on to the Grand Bargain and its call for multi-year funding, backed by strong transparency mandates. It's smart policy and smart money, and it is in all our interests to end the current piecemeal and uncoordinated approach."

MALALA YOUSAFZAI, STUDENT, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE AND CO-FOUNDER OF MALALA FUND

"As world leaders gather for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, I have a question: What will this summit deliver beyond words?

Too often the international community's promises to help those most in need are not matched by actions. We must make sure that every girl and boy has the opportunity to receive a safe, quality secondary education. Anything less is unacceptable.

I call on world leaders in Istanbul to be generous and back up their words with political will. They must deliver on each and every commitment they make, including fully funding the new Education Cannot Wait initiative."

SALIL SHETTY, SECRETARY GENERAL, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

"Today perpetrators of war crimes can drop bombs indiscriminately without facing consequences, and there is no system for sharing responsibility to protect the millions they displace. These are dark times that demand a decisive response from world leaders meeting at the World Humanitarian Summit.

It is absurd to expect humanitarian responses to improve at a time when the repeated bombing of field hospitals and routine targeting of civilians go unchecked. There can be no effective humanitarian system without respect for, and enforcement of, international law."

HELEN CLARK, ADMINISTRATOR, UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

"We must all strongly defend humanitarian principles and the critical work of the humanitarian organisations which provide life-saving support and protection to vulnerable communities. Alongside that vital support, we must also support emergency development interventions which can build the resilience of communities during protracted crises, and the medium- to longer-term interventions which will shrink the need for humanitarian relief in the future.

As humanitarian, development, and peace-building actors we must work in complementary ways in the interests of people, rather than in isolation from, or in competition with, each other."

SEAN CALLAHAN, COO, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES

"The World Humanitarian Summit will only be successful if governments and the U.N. show the political will to find meaningful solutions to long-term crises, including a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict. They need to come to the table with real commitments. Humanitarian commitments are great, but they're not enough.

Investing in the ability of local organisations and strengthening their readiness to respond will be a game-changer for how we deliver humanitarian assistance - in a way that fosters resilience on a much greater scale."

LORETTA MINGHELLA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CHRISTIAN AID

"Words are not enough to solve the escalating needs of people whose lives are blighted by crisis. The success of the summit will depend on how energetically we collectively deliver against the promises that we are all launching.

It's vital that when we go home we do our utmost to turn these fine words into real action to change the lives of the world's most vulnerable people."

MARK GOLDRING, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, OXFAM GB

"This summit needs to be more than an expensive talking shop by tackling the repeated failure of governments to resolve conflicts and end the culture of impunity in which civilians are killed without consequence.

Governments continue to put their short-term interests, including the sale of arms that fuel conflicts, ahead of long-term stability and the protection of human life. This failure to protect civilians and bring peace is the cause of much of the suffering faced by refugees, and those displaced within their own borders."

SARAH PICKWICK, SENIOR CONFLICT ADVISER, WORLD VISION UK

"I was recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo where although assistance has helped many affected families with their basic needs, there was a sense of fatigue, cynicism and pessimism about the future.

Funding is a huge issue generally, but securing more funding isn't the only challenge ahead. It's also crucial to find ways to address the root cause of these long-term crises. It's imperative that the conversation on reforming the humanitarian finance system does not stop at the conference."

(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Astrid Zweynert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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