Global Independent Analytics

Why The First-Ever World Humanitarian Summit Matters

World Humanitarian Summit comes at a time when protracted conflict, instability, and forced displacement are defining features of the global landscape

Rick Leach for Huffington Post reports: There are more than 60 million refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons worldwide as a result of violence and persecution. The average length of displacement for a refugee is now 17 years. While displacement has been on the rise, the numbers of refugees repatriating has been declining. The 126,000 who did go home in 2015 were the lowest number in over 30 years.

A change in mindset to deal with protracted crises and displacement is urgently needed. Displacement has traditionally been seen as a short-term emergency. But it is equally a challenge to long-term progress, affecting poverty levels, education, employment and service delivery—not only for those who have been forced to flee their homes, but also for the nations and communities hosting them.

Although these challenges do not have a ‘quick-fix’ yet, there are crucial steps that governments, donors, humanitarian and development partners can take to cope with the demands of crisis-affected populations. Also, it is critical to ensure that to prevent further geopolitical threats these crises should be dealt with immediately, and the current reliance or short-term financing has been of a little help lately.

Among other problems, assistance for the frontline states that are hosting refugees is vital. Although much of the world’s media focus has been on the arrival of displaced populations in Europe, the vast majority of the world’s refugees is settled in middle-income and developing countries, which often do not have the means to provide assistance and protection to a large influx of people while meeting the needs of their own populations.

To solve this problem, bold steps are needed. More effort must be made to not only save lives, but also to support education, job creation and other opportunities that promote self-reliance and help break the cycle of dependency on aid. Families, fleeing war, need to know that wherever they are, their basic needs will be fulfilled.

It also should be remembered that while humanitarian groups are fighting to provide to the needs of those affected by the crisis, their help should not substitute the political will and action required to address the root causes of conflict and to reach a sustainable peace.

Tackling the challenges of today’s crises must be understood to be in the public interest. Conflict, natural disasters, and public health emergencies do not respect national borders. We must seize the opportunities in front of us to work more efficiently together.

Our common humanity demands nothing less.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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