World Humanitarian Summit calls for shift of emphasis from response to prevention of refugee crisis

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By Euronews
World Humanitarian Summit calls for shift of emphasis from response to prevention of refugee crisis

Turkey has been much of the focus of the refugee crisis and now at the first World Humanitarian Summit the two day programme is hoping the talking and discussion will lead to priority action to meet certain needs of the crisis.

Humanitarian funding is currently 12 times greater than 15 years ago. According to experts the costs can be curbed by reducing the need, which means a shift of emphasis from response to prevention and managing the escalation of risks.

“A dollar invested now in relief in upholding human rights will save tens upon thousands of dollars down the road, so we get to move out of the short sided approach to humanitarian action, get the long game in play in this now with compassion, in order that the world will be more secure in the longer term,” Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High commissioner for Human Rights told Euronews.

The first achievement of the two-day summit is an agreement which has been dubbed the “Grand Bargain”. It aims to cut the cost of administering aid by around a billion dollars a year. That should ensure more money goes to help people in crisis. The move could help fill an estimated 15 billion annual funding gap.

“Funding is an expression of something that is much deeper. It’s not only about money, but it is about recognition of the scale and the magnitude of the challenges we face. We all now want a better humanitarian ecosystem, we all want a great efficiency, we all want less transaction cost and more importantly we all want results and greater impact for the people in need,” explained Elhadj As Sy Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The plight of children caught in the crisis has been in sharp focus. It’s estimated nearly 75 million had their education disrupted last year but on average only two percent of humanitarian appeals are dedicated to learning. The Overseas Development Institute says funding for education in emergencies has almost halved since 2010.

Chystos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management explained how the EU is now going to tackle the problem.

“I have already decided to increase our budget four times for education in emergencies because education for us is a shield against radicalisation, against forced recruitment, forced marriage, and of course is the foundation for everything else,” he said.

Not all the voices resonated with positive tones. There was criticism of the handling of the crisis in Europe and in particular decisions taken on which borders the migrants could cross. That led to many going through Serbia in a bid to reach northern Europe.

“I would take the Serbian example as being the result out of non action in Europe, where there were no decisions on how to categorize the refugees and migrants and how to deal with them and therefore we had large flows through Serbia,” Irena Vojackova, Head of the United Nations Development Programme in Serbia told Euronews.

One of the world’s top humanitarian organisations Medicins sans Frontieres – Doctors without borders – boycotted the summit. It questioned if the meeting would hold states accountable for starting and perpetuating the crisis.