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World Humanitarian Summit 2016

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The United Nations (UN) is in the preparatory stages of hosting the World Humanitarian Summit 2016 in Istanbul. The summit will include the attendance of humanitarian organisations from around the world in a bit to collectively improve humanitarian services to address global crisis.

Founder and director of Islamic Relief (IR), Dr Hany El-Bana said this summit will be the first of its kind in the history of the UN. According to El-Bana, the UN has decided to put this summit in place as the increase in natural disasters, conflict and with at least 100 million people in dire need of urgent help; a system of response and assistance needs to be discussed and put in place.

Acting as a chairperson of the UN Humanitarian Forum, El-Bana explained that he is now taking the opportunity to promote this summit on a global scale, bringing together Muslim charities to be a part of the summit from the preparatory stages.

The Muslim charities have an opportunity to set the agenda for the summit.

“We are in the process of hosting national and international consultations to identify which key issues should be focused on in the summit,” El-Bana told VOC.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon’s decision to go ahead with this summit comes as developing countries, are becoming key players in humanitarian aid. Also, governments from a number of countries have climbed on board by donating to a number of humanitarian crisis around the world. In recent months, Saudi Arabia donated a total of USD 500 million to the relief activity in Iraq.

“When we see so many donors from the Arab Gulf, the mosaic of donors become different,” El-Bana added.

The cross cultural barriers of humanitarian aid volunteers in the areas where aid is being distributed has also caused a large amount of Western organisations to be thrown out. Such instances can be seen in Darfur or Somalia. El-Bana said there is a need for people of all religions and cultures to work together.

Some of the points which is suggested for the summit include: aid effectiveness, protection of the vulnerable community, managing the risk of the operation and transformation through innovation.

Furthermore, El-Bana explained that the current situation in Gaza has put many charity organisations in the red zone, whether it be the UN or European Union.

“If charities enter Gaza and attempt to construct anything to strengthen the infrastructure of the city whether it be a school, hospital or library, humanitarian law allows you to do this but those classifying organisations within the city will put you into the red zone,” El-Bana said.

Factors such as classification into those areas where instances of civil war have taken down homes and cities, will be discussed during the summit. These issues include very challenging questions for politicians and governments.

“If you have the power, mandate and will, you can change anything. The UN has become an infrastructure, let us use it to show the world and inform others. It has become a compelling duty for all of those smaller charities whether it be Muslim or Christian, work together,” El-Bana said. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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