Action Against Hunger Calls for Accountability at the World Humanitarian Summit
- On May 23 and May 24, world leaders and 6,000 members of the humanitarian community gather in Istanbul to commit to addressing enormous challenges in the humanitarian landscape, including the rise in violence against aid workers.
- Early action, protection, and flexibility are critical to a humanitarian system that puts people at the center and leaves no one behind.
- 79 million people required humanitarian aid in 2015
New York—In the last year, five of the world’s “level three” emergencies, which are the global humanitarian system's classification for the most severe, large-scale crises, were directly related to conflict: Yemen, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, and Central African Republic. The number of people displaced by violence in the past year totals about 60 million, the greatest number since World War II. In 2014, 329 humanitarian workers were victims of attacks, mainly in areas of conflict. In fact, attacks targeting aid workers have tripled over the past ten years.
"We have witnessed an alarming upsurge in human suffering and unprecedented threats to international humanitarian law in the past few years,“ said Action Against Hunger-USA Chief Executive Andrea Tamburini, who is attending the World Humanitarian Summit. “We must seize this opportunity to strengthen and reform the humanitarian system from within, and demand a mechanism that holds each of us accountable for the commitments we make over these two days."
"The Istanbul summit is an excellent opportunity to put all these challenges on the table—and exert pressure on the humanitarian system to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. The stakes are high," said Action Against Hunger-Spain’s Director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations, Manuel Sánchez-Montero.
Action Against Hunger is participating in the World Humanitarian Summit to announce three vital commitments to the Agenda for Humanity outlined by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his report on the summit.
Upholding international humanitarian law
Action Against Hunger calls for the creation of a Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for the protection of humanitarian aid workers, especially national staff, with the aim of combating the impunity of attacks on humanitarian workers, raising awareness, investigating and recording such attacks.
Attacks against aid workers are considered war crimes. “Under international humanitarian law, these attacks are not inevitable consequences of conflict, but of violations by belligerents. They prevent aid from reaching those in need," said Action against Hunger-France’s Head of Humanitarian Advocacy, Pauline Chetcuti. The organization has launched a Protect Aid Workers campaign to collect signatures to drive public support for this commitment.
Changing people’s lives and ending need
"In the deeply complex operating environments in which we work at present, we cannot remain stuck in the orthodoxy of the usual model of humanitarian action. We need to respect humanitarian principles, but also be aware that there are a number of actors with whom we must collaborate and work if we are to successfully deliver aid to people affected by crises," said Sanchez-Montero.
Action Against Hunger urges participants in the World Humanitarian Summit to go beyond the reaffirmation of humanitarian principles, and to highlight the close relationship between security and assistance. “Crises such as Syria make clear that needs must be addressed from three complementary areas: security, stabilization, and support, and not limited only to the first if they are to have lasting results,” Sanchez-Montero said.
Action Against Hunger will announce a commitment at the World Humanitarian Summit to prioritize innovative aid modalities such as cash-based interventions, either as unconditional transfers or through cash-for-work programs. These not only support local markets, but also contribute to building resilience, and give people the power to make their own choices about their most urgent needs and to prepare for future crises.
"We must overcome the shortsightedness of focusing our efforts only on coverage of basic humanitarian needs. It’s time to develop areas of shared responsibility between humanitarian action and development, and develop a more integrated approach— inclusive of local actors— that leaves no one behind,” Tamburini said.
Action Against Hunger emphasizes the importance of engaging at the Summit with constructive proposals, based on evidence, supported by humanitarian principles, and aimed at alleviating human suffering.
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