Humanitarian challenges push NGOs into devising new methods of aid

By Zhang Xu Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-5-24 23:33:01

The complexity of humanitarian problems today demands multilateral collaboration and practical innovation to overcome the weakness in old-fashioned aid methods.

Experts from renowned global rescue organizations agreed on this at a side event "Jointly Addressing Humanitarian Challenges," of the ongoing World Humanitarian Summit, highlighting their wishes to enhance the efficiency of humanitarian work.

Traditional and non-traditional humanitarian crises are interwoven in the modern world, and all the people should gather together for a better future, said Zhao Baige, vice chair of Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress.

"Humanitarian crisis tend to develop in diversified forms, including long-standing armed conflicts and natural disasters, as well as modern challenges of climate change, energy crisis and terrorism," Zhao said.

Humanitarian work is closely related to various security issues of water, energy, environment and health care.

Zhao urges all sides to coordinate humanitarian actions and establish new mechanisms that integrate resources from government, society, and the private sector.

Yves Daccord, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, agrees that facing new challenges, the existing system of humanitarian work needs to be updated.

He stressed that the current system is no longer helpful because of difficulties in meeting the growing needs, the lack of funding and investment, and the weakness in disaster prevention and management.

"The modern world is connected but fragmented, short of international convergence amid higher risks than ever before," he said. "We need to realize that it's harder for those in need to get access to proper humanitarian helps."

"A new concept of changing from being 'competitive' to 'collaborative' is crucial," Daccord said, believing the time when countries tackled crisis on their own has passed, and arguing that humanitarian organizations should work to ensure that their aid reaches those most in need rather than delivering to the general area.

Xavier Castellanos, Asia Pacific director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, also mentioned the difficulty of ensuring access to humanitarian aid due to lack of coordination.

"Our work is entangled with too many independent systems, based on which different organizations carry out different actions, which in fact hinder the process of delivering helps and solve real problems," he explained.

"This is why big data helps, not only in facilitating the humanitarian work, but also in making decisions," he added.

Another German expert, Christoph Beier, pointed out two obstacles in delivering help - "silence" that prevents being realized and "different standards" that slows down work steps.

"It's difficult to overcome the shortcomings immediately," he said. "But leadership, local preparation, innovations and more attention will help boost multilateral collaboration, which is the key to push the humanitarian work to the right future," he said.

During the summit, Zhao highlighted China's Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying it provides an opportunity and a platform for countries involved to establish collaboration in humanitarian work and realize hand-in-hand development.

The first World Humanitarian Summit opened in Istanbul on Monday, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for improving the global humanitarian system.

The event gathered 5,200 participants, including 65 heads of state and government, representatives from crises-affected communities, NGOs, private sectors and UN agencies.

The UN estimates that more than 130 million people across the world are currently in need of assistance and protection. Due to an increase of conflicts in the past two decades and various natural disasters taking place in the period, the need for humanitarian funding is unprecedented, with UN-led appeals growing six-fold from $3.4 billion in 2003 to nearly $21 billion at present.

The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency. The article first appeared on Xinhua.

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