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.

Advertising

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

Execution of juvenile offender in Iran ‘deeply distressing’ – UN rights chief

Crucial medical supplies airlifted to north-east Syria to meet ‘desperate need’

Who and why want the EU-US trade agreement here and now

‘Compelling case’ for urgency around global disarmament, UN-led forum told

E-cigars: Improbable ally or enemy in disguise?

“A Junior Enterprise is run only by students.. there are no professors or managers that can help you solve your problems”

Intervene, don’t overthink – the new mantra of systems design

TTIP’s 11th round major takeaways and the usual “leaked” document

Opposite cultures: Should it be a problem?

Pledging ongoing UN support during visit to cyclone-hit areas, Guterres praises resilience of Mozambicans

Air quality: Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

How oysters are cleaning New York’s polluted harbor

EU seeks foreign support on 5G from Mobile World Congress 2015 as the “digital gold rush” begins

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

“The markets have moved on renewables, policy makers must keep up”, A Sting Exclusive by Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment

UN Human Rights Council stands firm on LGBTI violence, Syria detainees and Philippines ‘war on drugs’

UK’s PM Theresa May asks for a two-year Brexit transition plan as negotiations round kicks off

Drought in Europe: Member States agree on support measures proposed by the Commission

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Climate crisis and food risks, fresh violence threat for millions of Syrians, calls for calm in Kashmir

Trade in counterfeit goods costs UK economy billions of euros

Refugee crisis update: EU still lacks solidarity as Hungary and Slovakia refuse to accept EU Court’s decision

How to future-proof India’s economy

EU’s judicial cooperation arm, Eurojust, to become more effective with new rules

Our healthcare systems are ailing. Here’s how to make them better

How universities can become a platform for social change

UNICEF backpacks used as a haunting symbol to call for greater protection of children living in conflict

Radioactive nuclear waste is a global threat. These scientists may have a new solution

OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks to break ‘vicious cycle’ of violence

A Europe that protects: EU reports on progress in fighting disinformation ahead of European Council

Commission presents EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements for signature and conclusion

Blue bonds: What they are, and how they can help the oceans

Obesity rates soar due to dramatic global diet shift, says UN food agency

Coronavirus crisis: “Commission will use all the tools at its disposal to make sure the European economy weathers the storm”

Mexico must increase foreign bribery enforcement: full implementation of anti-corruption reforms could help

Two peacekeepers killed in an attack against UN convoy in Mali

EuroLat plenary in Panama: control of trade talks and fight against crime

Is the English language too powerful?

Trade: First year of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement shows growth in EU exports

UN agriculture agency digs in to help forests and farms build resilience to climate change

Disaster Medicine in Medical Education: the investment you just can´t afford to ignore

A Sting Exclusive: “Infrastructure can lay the groundwork for the Sustainable Development Goals” by Mr Fulai Sheng, UN Environment Senior Economist

Commission proposes a governance framework for the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness

Why enterprise risk management is the future for banks

Streaming music isn’t as green as you might think. Here’s why

‘Young people care about peace’: UN Youth Envoy delivers key message to Security Council

Why the ECB prepares to flood the markets with more and free of charge euro; everybody needs that now

Deal on tightening the rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

A Europe that protects: Continued efforts needed on security priorities

International community renews commitment to multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

EU invests more than €100 million in new LIFE Programme projects to promote a green and climate-neutral Europe

What the car industry has done to help fight climate change – and what it needs to do next

MWC 2016 LIVE: Freemium MVNO model a success, claims FreedomPop head

This company is breeding millions of insects in the heart of London

Millions more migrant workers, means countries lose ‘most productive part’ of workforce

‘Brutal weather’ continues as Rohingya refugee children endure devastating rainfall in Bangladesh

Turkey remains numb while its economy is expected to shrink further due to a cocktail of EU and US sanctions

More taxpayers’ money for the banks

Electronic cigarettes – The alternative we’ve been looking for?

More Stings?

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