You earned respect of whole international community, says Red Cross advisor of Red Crescent’s humanitarian efforts
By Nilay Kar Onum
Major international aid groups on Thursday met in Istanbul to discuss ways to solve global humanitarian crises.
The Kizilay Talks hosted by the Turkish Red Crescent, or Kizilay, on the theme “Towards a More Collaborative Future,” brought together officials from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Doctors Without Borders, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Speaking at the event’s opening, Kerem Kinik, head of the Turkish Red Crescent and vice president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that 140 million people across the world are in need.
“The joint target of the UN and other NGOs was reaching 100 million people. We say that we won’t leave anybody behind, but unfortunately, we’re leaving millions of people behind,” Kinik said.
The main principle of the meeting is to reach a common understanding to make the world more livable and to find innovative and solution-based approaches, he added.
Nicholas Hawton, a diplomatic advisor to International Committee of the Red Cross, hailed the Turkish Red Crescent’s humanitarian efforts, saying: “You earned the respect of the whole international community.”
“My first job today is to thank you Kizilay for the significant and long contribution to humanitarian work in Turkey and beyond and the important role you played in our movement,” Hawton said.
The Turkish Red Crescent is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, with an international network to help other nations in need.
In his speech, Hawton also underlined the importance of humanitarian ecosystem models for global humanitarian responses to crises.
“The ecosystem model encourages four things; diversity, partnership, local action, and people-centered action, which are particularly important for our movement,” he said.
“The diversity model of the humanitarian ecosystem desires and encourages a diversity of humanitarian actors and responses. The ecosystem model is also respectful of local humanitarian action, not biased in favor of international organizations,” he said.
Hawton said different organizations need to cooperate to keep living systems alive.
“A model global humanitarian response prioritizes the needs of the whole population and not the needs of humanitarian organizations.
“I think the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement knows deeply that the ecosystem model is the best approach for global humanitarian response cooperation,” Hawton said.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Kinik said that dozens of children and people are dying of hunger in war-torn Yemen every day.
“We will pay a visit to Yemen in the coming days and will hold talks with concerned parties to expand our aid activities in that region.”
Kizilay delivered around 15,000 tons of food and around 1,000 truckloads of aid supplies throughout Yemen, he said.
“Our colleagues have been delivering humanitarian aid supplies to people in cities such as Al Mansoora and Taiz daily,” Kinik said, adding that this is unfortunately not enough and aid efforts in the region should be increased.
For her part, Katy Attfield of the ICRC called the humanitarian situation in Yemen one of the “most challenging” in the world.
“The ICRC has been in Yemen for many years. We face extreme difficulties accessing people in need. We continue our efforts.”
The ICRC has been able to bring more than $100 million to Yemen, mostly for health care and food, she added.
The IFRC has been working closely with the Yemeni Red Crescent to build their capacity to be able to respond to the crisis, said Mette Petersen, the group’s Turkey office head.
“Access is a very big problem,” Petersen said. “Getting the aid to people is a very big challenge.”
Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi rebel group overran much of the country, and the crisis escalated in 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
Tens of thousands of people, including civilians, are believed to have been killed, and the UN estimates that around 14 million Yemenis are at risk of famine.
During the press conference, Peterson hailed the Turkish Red Crescent’s “incredible” and “outstanding” efforts in Turkey and abroad.
“There is a very common view that we are highly impressed by the hospitality and support that is being given to the refugee population here in Turkey,” he said.
Turkey hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country in the world. The country has spent more than $32 billion from its own national resources for helping and sheltering refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.