Out with the old: Young People transforming Humanitarian Action

world-humanitarian_summit-2016_

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – 24 May 2016: Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson introduces the panel comprised of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu, President of Médecins du Monde Dr Françoise Sivignon, President of Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation Rene ‘Butch” Meily and Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, global network of civil society organisations for disaster reduction Maria Veronica Bastias during the Closing Plenary held within the World Humanitarian Summit (World Humanitarian Summit, 2016)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Alice Claeson and Mr Marian Sedlak, medical students with experience working in humanitarian action. Both students are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

The humanitarian landscape is shifting. Today, an increasing number of people are affected by humanitarian crises as natural disasters, conflict and displacement. Humanitarian needs have rapidly increased in the last years and despite increased financial resources, humanitarian funding has not been able to keep up. The humanitarian funding gap in 2015 was the largest one recorded yet (1).

Conflict is more seldom fought on battle fields by state military, instead we see intrastate conflicts where civilian deaths often outnumber combatant ones (2, 3). In addition, protracted crises are becoming the new normal and the divide between humanitarian action and development has come into question.

The World Humanitarian Summit, which took place in May this year, brought together state representatives, humanitarian actors, United Nations (UN) agencies, private sector and affected communities to discuss the humanitarian challenges the world is facing. One of the topics discussed during the Summit was the role of youth.

Young people and adolescents make up 1,8 billion of the world’s population (4). They often face specific needs and challenges when affected by humanitarian crises. But at the same time, young people are often at the frontlines of humanitarian response. The potential of young people as actors of change in conflict settings has been recognized by the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security (4). More and more actors are coming to realize the potential and transformative role of young people in all humanitarian settings.

The Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action , launched during the World Humanitarian Summit, brings together a wide variety of such actors. It includes UN agencies, governments, NGOs, the private sector, philanthropies and youth led organizations, all committed to transforming humanitarian action with and for young people.

The Compact outlines five action areas important for strengthening the role of youth in humanitarian settings. These are services delivery and gender and age sensitive programming, engagement and participation of young people in all stages of humanitarian action, strengthening youth led initiatives to take local action, the allocation and accountability of resources to young people and the collection of age and gender disaggregated data. With these different action areas, the Compact and its members work to ensure that young people are considered as important actors and partners within humanitarian action.

With new and complex challenges emerging on the humanitarian arena, it is clear that the innovation, initiative and enthusiasm of young people are crucially needed. Youth all over the world are bringing positive change towards their communities and their contributions should be fully recognized. Hopefully, the Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action will be leading this change.

References

(1) High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing Report to the SecretaryGeneral. Too important to fail Addressing the Humanitarian Financing Gap. 2016.

(2) UN General Assembly, Impact of armed conflict on children : note / by the SecretaryGeneral, 26 August 1996, A/51/306

(2) Uppsala University, Department of Peace and Conflict Research. Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Accessed August 31st 2016.

(3) United Nations Population Funds. “The power of 1.8 billion: adolescents, youth and the transformation of the future”. 2014.

(4) Security Council Resolution 2250. 2015.

About the authors

Alice Claeson and Marían Sedlak are medical students with experience working in humanitarian action. They both participated in the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, as representatives of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA).

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