Modern humanitarian aid at times of global crises

ban-ki-moon-2016

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, which takes place at the Council’s Justus Lipsius building. © European Union , 2016 / Photo: Enzo Zucchi.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Sikhar Mehta, final year medical student with experience in humanitarian action. Mr Mehta is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

Our world has been ravaged by demons of war, poverty, famine, terrorism, drought, illiteracy, pandemic and natural disasters to name a few. From civil war is Syria to poverty and famine in Africa; from cyclone in Fiji to earthquake in Ecuador; the toll these events take on the lives of people is enormous.

Currently the world faces violence and conflict in the Middle East, pandemic and drought in West Africa, refugee crisis in Europe, effect of El Niño in Ethiopia, lack of food, water, medicine and shelter in various countries of Africa among other countless issues. There are over 130 million people in need of humanitarian help today. To address this issue, World Humanitarian Summit was held in Istanbul in May 2016.

The governments, NGOs, individuals and trusts are already doing their bit to provide resources to the people in need. According to Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2015, humanitarian response has increased from US$ 16.4 billion in 2009 to US$ 24.5 billion in 2014. Donors have contributed $13.7 billion towards humanitarian operations in 2016. Still, this sector remains largely underfunded. In 2014, only 62% of the requirements were met as opposed to 65% in 2013. Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) requires US$21.9 billion to meet the needs of  96.9 million people. US remains the highest government donor with donations worth six billion dollars, followed by UK and EU institutions.

The governments of other first world countries should invest more in humanitarian sector just as they do in political and economic problems. Private donors provide 26% of all humanitarian assistance, which is comparatively less. It is directed mainly towards short term recipients. More billionaires should take inspiration from others like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and lend money for humanitarian purposes. People should donate money through websites set up for the cause.

The media should act more responsibly, by reporting this dire crisis. Sadly only a few news outlets are acting maturely enough. Awareness about the programmes, NGOs, meets etc. should be created among people who want to help out. In spite of a lot of opportunities being out there, most people remain oblivious due to lack of awareness.

The transfer of resources from donor to recipient should be made more transparent and efficient. Localization of resources near frequently affected areas should be done, so that immediate and emergency help can be provided. More data should be provided about how many people have been helped and how many are yet to receive any. These steps are already being taken, but the results are yet to appear.

Unnecessary political procedures and red tape need to be curbed. Security of humanitarian workers is as much important, and regarding this, proper steps need to be taken where these occurrences are the highest. In 2008, 280 such workers were killed mainly in Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia. Countries should be more accepting towards refugees.

The politicians need to forget their political and personal interest. Leaders from all G7 nations, except Germany, were absent from the WHS. This shows that they need to develop their interest in the matter.

In this devastating situation, it is the moral duty of us, the people, of the governments and world leaders, of the humanitarian organizations, to join hands and provide necessary help to the affected. Lets adopt the notion of ‘One humanity, shared responsibility’ and become humans for humanity.

Sources of data:

Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2015

Humanitarian Funding Update July 2016

Humanitarian Policy Group Brief 34

About the author

Shikhar Mehta is studying in his final year in medicine at SMIMER medical college, Surat. As a member of MSAI, he had taken part in Diabetes awareness program on World Health Day and he looks forward to participating in similar programs in the future. He is an occasional blogger and has a personal blog which updates when he has something to write about. His hobbies include sketching, drumming and reading.

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