8 things we need to do to tackle humanitarian crises in 2019

refugee crisis 2019

UNHCR/A. McConnell A group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after travelling in an inflatable raft from Turkey, near Skala Sykaminias, Greece.

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


In Timbuktu, Mali this month I met with families without food whose crops have failed and whose children have been killed by improvised explosive devices (IED). I couldn’t help but be moved by the deep levels of people’s suffering; too many are living on a knife’s edge.

From West Africa I travel straight to Davos, Switzerland to impress upon leaders at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting the reality of human suffering in the Sahel.

Today, a colossal 120 million people globally need aid just to survive as a result of violence and conflict. Yemen, Syria and South Sudan are synonymous with suffering.

In the Sahel a new frontier is emerging: climate change is exacerbating the already devastating impacts of conflict, poverty and underdevelopment. People in the resource-scarce region already walk a tightrope of survival. With temperatures rising at almost twice the global average, we can only expect that without action, fragility and insecurity will escalate, as will the needs of the population.

Today, a colossal 120 million people globally need aid just to survive as a result of violence and conflict.

There are no shortcuts for responding to or preventing the harm from these large-scale, complex dynamics. Emergency humanitarian relief will always be needed but it is not enough to meet the great demands.

This is a crossroads year for humanitarian response, because long-term durable political settlements are still elusive in too many places. A more fundamental reorientation of humanitarian action – one that views and answers for the long-term, at scale – is critical. This year, I believe progress in eight areas will shift the needle on humanitarian needs.

1. Focus on the hotspots

Twenty of the most violent crises in the world are at the origin of more than 80% of displacement and humanitarian needs.

Stalemate must be replaced by decisive political action to break the cycle of violence and to support shaky stabilization attempts.

Syria, Iraq, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel, Afghanistan and the Myanmar/Bangladesh crises will continue to be hotspots in 2019.

2. Pooling insights, skills and resources

No single sector will be able to respond alone to the depth and breadth of humanitarian crises: progress will need strong support from states, international organizations and civil society at large.

While the neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian space is still the best place to reset lives and reconcile, humanitarian actors can spearhead efforts at frontlines and guide others through the landscape of fragmented societies, security challenges and multi-faceted needs.

Local and international organizations can complement each other. Academia brings critical thinking and measurability, while the private sector has a unique ability to get economies up and running and to support communities in developing businesses, capacities and skills.

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is uniquely equipped to link international and local efforts and to trigger scaled-up responses in more than 190 countries. The UN system has a unique convening power to bring states together to respond more generously.

The Famine Action Mechanism developed by the World Bank, Google, Amazon, the World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross is a potentially game-changing idea, pooling new perspectives and expertise to tackle an old and life-threatening problem.

3. Freeing up new investment for sustainable action

The traditional humanitarian finance model is built on fundraising for humanitarian emergency spending. With more protracted, long-term crises and the gap between needs and response widening, traditional assistance must be accompanied by more targeted and sustainable investment in people, skills and revenues for communities.

The big question for 2019 is whether stakeholders will move forward and increase investments in fragile contexts, such as the Humanitarian Impact Bond, while sharing risk in ways that make innovative finance more scalable.

4. Supporting self-reliance not dependency

Communities affected by war have an inherent capacity to cope with crisis. Instead of encouraging aid dependency, we must help people affected to rapidly shift from emergency mode to income generation.

Cash transfers have replaced physical aid delivery in some areas while microcredits have opened paths to independent economic activity. Emergency assistance is still needed at considerable scale, but it is time for more sophisticated, durable and scalable solutions.

5. Designing new humanitarian responses

Given the world’s increased connectivity, humanitarian actors need to be closer, more engaged and more accountable to affected populations. They need to be more supportive of people’s own efforts as first responders, and more concerned about how to design an international response in support of local actors. This demands a change away from prefabricated solutions to more adapted, contextualized and eventually individualized support.

6. Harnessing digital opportunities and preventing harm

Digital tools have already transformed aid delivery and interaction with affected populations and will further do so in the future. Issues for 2019 range from information as a humanitarian benefit to the application of international humanitarian law in cyber warfare. Digital transformation is an opportunity – improved analytics and supply chains – and a challenge. A new consensus on digital identities and data protection is needed, in particular in conflict areas.

7. Addressing invisible trauma

Today we are increasingly confronted with more invisible suffering; mental health issues and the anguish caused by sexual violence are prominent examples. It is estimated that after sudden, major humanitarian crises, around 10-15% of people will develop mild or moderate mental illnesses and up to 4% will develop severe mental disorders. Mental health must therefore be a priority in humanitarian emergencies and taken as seriously as physical health. Supporting people’s mental health can be lifesaving in times of war and violence, just as much as stemming wounds or having clean water.

8. Respecting the law, no excuses

As the Geneva Conventions turn 70 in 2019, we recognize that over the decades they have undoubtedly saved millions of lives and minimized the impact of conflict on civilians, while creating conditions for stability and more durable peace.

But they need interpretation and implementation in view of contemporary challenges. In 2019 I want us to recommit to the use of force based on the law, the humane treatment of detainees and the protection of civilian populations. The respect of basic principles are priorities – even in armed conflicts – involving counter-terrorism operations, asymmetric warfare and situations of broad public insecurity or inter-community violence.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN must bring more women police officers into the fold to be effective – UN peacekeeping official

IMF: European banks do not perform their duty to real economy

A Europe that protects: Continued efforts needed on security priorities

Global warming: our responsibility

Why sustainable products are a win-win for all of us

Main results of Foreign Affairs EU Council, 16/07/2018

The COP24 Agreement: Yes, it happened at last

Afghanistan: UN mission condemns deadly attack near Kabul airport

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

Further reforms will move Slovakia toward a more innovative and inclusive society

The world is facing more disasters. This is how data can help us reduce that risk

Here’s how to check in on your AI system, as COVID-19 plays havoc

Big data is coming to agriculture. Farmers must set its course

Leaders need hard data to make the hard decisions about sustainability

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic must not be undermined by bribery

ECB guarantees the liquidity of the Atlantic financial volume

European Youth Capital 2019 announced: Novi Sad, Serbia

JADE Generations Club: Connecting perspectives, changing Europe.

Here are four steps SMEs can take for long-term success

Commission and EIB provide CureVac with a €75 million financing for vaccine development and expansion of manufacturing

What COVID-19 tells us about the changing nature of disaster risk

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

How privacy tech is redefining the data economy

Cyber attacks are shutting down countries, cities and companies. Here’s how to stop them

Will the end of QE come along with ECB’s inflation target?

World Malaria Day: 7 things to know about the deadly disease

A young person’s perspective on the Paris and Beirut attacks and aftermath

Convincing the Germans to pay also for the unification of Eurozone

A sterilised EMU may lead to a break up of Eurozone

US and Mexico child deportations drive extreme violence and trauma: UNICEF

Reintegrating former rebels into civilian life a ‘serious concern’ in Colombia: UN Mission chief

Combatting terrorism: EP special committee calls for closer EU cooperation

“If they think they can slave an entire nation, then they will just have the opposite results!”, Alexis Tsipras cries out from the Greek parliament

Hurricane Dorian: Bahamas death toll expected to rise as thousands remain missing

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

Berlin to pay at the end for Eurozone banks’ consolidation

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

The Working Methods of the von der Leyen Commission: Striving for more at home and in the world

Commissioner Hogan announces new transparency package

Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

EU Commission: Germany can make Eurozone grow again just by helping itself

This robot has soft hands. It could be the future of sustainable production

Davos participants call for digital trade deal

4 key steps towards a circular economy

Tax revenues have reached a plateau

6 charts that show how Japan’s economy stacks up as it enters a new era

Migration and asylum: EU funds to promote integration and protect borders

Nicaragua: MEPs demand an end to repression of political opponents

The 10 most common types of plastic choking Europe’s rivers

In Pakistan, Guterres urges world to step up climate action, praises support to Afghan refugees

Protecting citizens’ access to social security in case of no-deal Brexit

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

5 ways governments can unleash the power of young entrepreneurs

Europe must remember its past to build its future

The world wide web is 30 years old. What better time to fight for its future?

JADE Spring Meeting 2017– day 1: Excellence awards, panel discussion, keynote speeches

Population in crisis hit EU countries will suffer for decades

How a chocolate bar gives hope for a new economy

Five ways to increase trust in e-commerce

Fairer food supply chain: Agriculture MEPs clamp down on unfair trading

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s