IRC: "Humanitarian response must be fit in a new crisis context"

We link here below the new column from David Miliband, president and CEO fo International Rescue Commitee and former foreign secretary of the UK.

There will be intensive brainstorming about the future of humanitarian action in the next two years. In March 2015, the third world conference on disaster risk reduction will take place in Japan. The UN development summit in September 2015 will establish the successors to the millennium development goals (MDGs) – the sustainable development goals (SDGs). And in March 2016, the global humanitarian community will meet in Istanbul for the first world humanitarian summit.

This kind of focus is essential because the “aidscape” is changing. On the demand side, the growth of the middle class in China and India means a higher concentration of poverty in conflict-affected states. Half of the world’s extreme poor, who survive on less than $1.25 a day, live in these fragile states. As a result, humanitarian crises are becoming more complex and more frequent.

On the “supply” side, the humanitarian community is characterised by fatigue and fragmentation. The fatigue is manifest in what Pope Francis has called the “globalisation of indifference”. The fragmentation can be seen among traditional humanitarian actors, where there are diverse approaches and priorities, and in the entry of new players, whether funded from Muslim majority countries in the Gulf or by the private sector.

This discrepancy between demand and supply explains why, in the face of an unprecedented four crises rated level 3 by the UN in 2013 (Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Philippines), the global response has been lacking. UN appeals are underfunded by governments; the public is dispirited; humanitarian NGOs are stretched as rarely before.

Humanitarian agencies like the International Rescue Committee are responding with a range of innovations to improve efficiency and effectiveness. There is more focus on and accountability to “beneficiaries” – the people we assist; more integration of social and economic interventions; and better partnerships with local civil society.



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