One Humanity Shared ResponsibilityJune 07, 2016
Since the start of the Syrian civil war, the number of refugees in Turkey has reached nearly 3 million. Out of these 3 million, 1,490,033 of them are children and 150,000 of them have been born in Turkey since the conflict began. It is estimated that the migration deal between the European Union and Turkey made earlier this year has actually brought the number of refugees in Turkey closer to 4 million if not more. While Turkey, a middle-income country, has spent more than $10 billion on migrants, the international community has collectively contributed only $455 million.
As a country shouldering the burden of a humanitarian catastrophe, Turkey hosted the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) organized by the United Nations on May 23-24. It was attended by 55 heads of state and government as well as representatives from 173 U.N. member states, as well as representatives from more than 180 countries and international organizations. The driving force behind the summit was Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “Agenda for Humanity,” which outlines five core responsibilities of the international community to prevent and end conflict, uphold the norms that safeguard humanity, leave no one behind, change people's lives, from delivering aid to ending need by reducing risk and vulnerability for those living on the margins of existence and invest in humanity.
According to U.N. figures, 125 billion people around the world need urgent humanitarian aid. This is a crisis that needs to be shared and that can only be mitigated through comprehensive, collaborative solutions that depend on the participation of all global leaders. From Sudan to Ukraine, humanitarian crises are growing in scale and becoming more frequent. These are global problems that are only amenable to global solutions; solutions that depend on the contributions and efforts of different actors from all around the world. For this reason, the WHS brought together heads of state, national and international aid organizations, representatives from the private sector, leaders of local communities, policymakers, politicians, activists and academics. The diverse group of leaders engaged in comprehensive, multi-stakeholder meetings to discuss the need to go beyond simple humanitarian assistance to tackle some of the largest humanitarian challenges facing the world today. They discussed the need to address root causes of crises, deepen diplomacy to prevent and resolve conflict, and coordinate development and humanitarian efforts.
The international humanitarian system desperately needs a revolution from within. Obviously, the current system does not sufficiently respond to the needs of people today. As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in reference to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC): “The current system remains insufficient in the face of the urgent problems of humanity. Only certain countries are shouldering the burden of the system which fails to bring solutions to problems. Everyone should assume responsibility to share this burden. The world is bigger than five.”
The failure of these five powers that comprise the UNSC – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China – to find solutions that address today's humanitarian crises has painfully proved once again that the fate of humanity cannot be left to these five countries alone. Global solutions to global problems must be devised by all countries and international actors that share equal responsibility and all have a vested interest in creating sustainable, inclusive solutions that bring the world together.
In order to address humanitarian crises faster and more efficiently, we must prioritize international cooperation to service those in need regardless of religion or ethnicity. Discrimination must end immediately, and everyone who requires humanitarian support must be assisted by the entire world no matter where they come from or what religion they ascribe to. In this context, it is significant that the WHS convened in a country like Turkey, which has shown incredible humanitarian compassion in the past. We hope that the outcomes of this summit will transform the present system into a more efficient one, and this volume aims to present the articles published in Daily Sabah during the WHS.