Saturday 24 March 2018

Global leaders descend on Istanbul for UN-organised World Humanitarian Summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in attendance at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in attendance at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul
Jan Eliasson, right, UN deputy secretary-general, and Stephen O'Brien, UN under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (AP)

An unprecedented summit to revamp humanitarian aid and global responses to modern-day crises has opened in Turkey.

The first World Humanitarian Summit is being convened in Istanbul in a bid to better tackle what the United Nations has described as the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

The two-day gathering was conceived four years ago by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In preparation, 23,000 people were consulted in over 150 countries, according to UN officials.

Mr Ban said at the opening of the summit: "We are here to shape a different future. Let us resolve ourselves here and now not only to keep people alive but to give people a chance at life in dignity."

An estimated 125 million people worldwide require humanitarian assistance, including 60 million who are displaced from their homes.

Mr Ban urged those gathered to commit to reducing the number of people displaced from their homes by half by 2030.

The guiding principles of the summit include conflict prevention and resolution, strengthening the protection of civilians, and reducing humanitarian funding shortfalls.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "Very often pledges are being made but the money doesn't get where it is most needed."

She also called for a renewed global consensus regarding humanitarian principles, saying it is a "disaster" that leaders "need to talk about international humanitarian law being adhered to" in the face of schools and hospitals being bombed in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope that the summit will prove a "turning point" and encouraged more countries to share the burden of emergency response. Turkey is home to more than 3 million refugees making it the largest host of refugees in the world.

Press Association

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