World’s first humanitarian summit to start in Istanbul
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe World Humanitarian Summit – the first of its kind – officially kicks off May 23 amid the Syrian civil war entering its sixth year, Europe’s struggle with the worst refugee crisis since World War II and growing global social inequality.
Hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, world leaders from United Nations member states, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Kuwaiti Emir Al-Jaber al-Sabah are set to gather in Turkey’s largest city on May 23 and 24.
During the summit, attended by 125 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, at least 50 heads of government will announce several commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.
These include preventing and ending conflict; respecting the rules of war; addressing forced displacement; achieving gender equality; responding to climate change; ending the need for aid; and investing in humanity.
“Leaders at the World Humanitarian Summit must make concrete commitments that deliver real change for civilians facing disaster and conflict,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, who will address government leaders at the summit, said in a statement last week.
“Fundamentally, we must see action from world leaders to reverse the shocking erosion of respect for international humanitarian law – this could be the summit’s single most important legacy,” Byanyima said.
Russian leader declines invitation
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, declined his invitation to the summit, the humanitarian news agency IRIN reported on May 10.
Herve Verhoosel, the spokesperson for the summit, told Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of a joint press meeting with Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on May 20 that a deputy minister from Russia will participate in the summit.
In 2014, the U.N. reported that around $540 million of the roughly $135 billion global aid budget was spent on decreasing disaster risk.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to push for an increase in world spending on reducing disaster risk at the summit in Turkey, which is one of the world’s most generous aid donors.
Turkey ranked third in the list of countries with the most international humanitarian work in 2012 and 2013, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) said in its Turkish Development Assistance 2013 report – the latest such figures from the agency.
According to another 2013 Global Humanitarian Assistance report, the top five donors were the U.S. at $3.8 billion, followed by EU institutions ($1.9 billion), the U.K. ($1.2 billion), Turkey ($1.0 billion) and Sweden at $784 million.
Hosting almost 3 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion on caring for them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, according to officials.