A Call to Action: Global Humanitarian Crises Demand Equal Attention from International Donors

A Call to Action: Global Humanitarian Crises Demand Equal Attention from International Donors

Dr Jamie Munn, ICVA Executive Director
10 July 2024

While many political and humanitarian departments in capitals around the globe focus on the summer holidays and aim for a less stressful workload in July and August, we cannot afford to slow down. The humanitarian crises around the world will not wait for everyone to return to work. We must keep up the pace in delivering aid and support where it is desperately needed.

Replete with serious violations of humanitarian law and enduring images of suffering etched in our collective consciousness, the crises in Gaza and Ukraine have sparked significant global concern. Yet, while the world’s eyes are fixed on these areas, we must not let other equally devastating crises fall into obscurity.

Across the globe, atrocities are unfolding in Sudan, the Western Sahel, Haiti, and Myanmar, demanding our immediate and unwavering attention. While these crises may receive less media coverage, they are no less severe in their impact on human lives and dignity. The United Nations reported in March that one in 22 people worldwide is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. This staggering figure underscores the global scale of suffering that cannot be ignored.

In Sudan, over 135,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to violence in just one week, leaving them vulnerable to hunger, thirst, and lack of medical care. ICVA members like the Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are on the ground, providing critical aid to those affected. Sudanese national aid providers, such as the Sudanese Red Crescent, are also working tirelessly to deliver essential services and support to displaced families. However, a ceasefire is urgently needed to prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from worsening.

Similarly, the Western Sahel region, which includes Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, is experiencing rampant conflict and displacement, exacerbated by the climate crisis. ICVA members such as Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and Action Contre la Faim (ACF), are providing essential medical care, food assistance, and support for displaced populations. Haiti, plagued by political instability, gang violence, and climate disasters, is in dire need of sustained and coordinated support from the international community to rebuild their lives and their country. Organizations such as CARE and Save the Children are actively involved in delivering humanitarian aid, while local NGOs such as Fondasyon Kole Zepòl (FONKOZE) work on economic empowerment and community resilience.

In Myanmar, ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya, face daily atrocities due to military aggression. UNHCR in May reported that there were 3,093,700 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The ongoing violence and displacement are a stark reminder that the principles of humanitarianism must be upheld universally, not selectively. ICVA members like World Vision and Plan International are working to provide essential services and support to affected populations, while national NGOs are offering critical assistance and protection.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is suffering from one of the world’s longest-running humanitarian crises, with millions displaced due to ongoing conflict and violence. According to Save the Children between January and April 2024 alone, more than 900,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and 25.4 million people are food insecure, including, 13.2 million children. ICVA members such as Mercy Corps and Concern Worldwide are working tirelessly to provide aid, while Congolese NGOs like Heal Africa focus on health services and community support.

Yemen, facing what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis due to widespread famine, disease, and ongoing conflict, requires urgent assistance. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Save the Children are providing lifesaving assistance, while Yemeni ICVA member NGOs like the Tamdeen Youth Foundation, Benevolence Coalition for Humanitarian Relief (BCHR), Human Access for Partnerhsip and Development, Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF), and Yemen Aid work tirelessly on the ground to support their communities.

Afghanistan continues to struggle with severe humanitarian needs following decades of conflict, economic instability, and now a political shift. Millions of Afghans are at risk of starvation and lack access to essential services. ICVA members such as IRC and CARE are deeply involved in relief efforts. Afghan NGOs within the ACBAR coordinating body for Afghan Relief and Development, are pivotal in delivering aid and support in this challenging environment.

It is widely accepted that local and national NGOs are the first responders in times of crisis and can deliver quality and effective assistance to their communities. This is a major premise of the Grand Bargain and the Localisation Agenda. However, international donors need to do more than just acknowledge this fact; they must put their money where their mouth is. It is time to directly fund national NGOs. ICVA members, including international NGOs and national NGOs, are ready to work with donors to get this done. Without substantial funding, all talk of empowering local organizations is just empty rhetoric.

The moral obligation of international donors is to address all humanitarian crises with equal urgency and commitment, regardless of the location. Selective focus on certain conflicts undermines the very foundation of humanitarianism: that all human lives are of equal value and deserving of protection.

We, as NGOs, call upon international donors to expand their gaze and act with urgency and equity. Every crisis, whether in Sudan, the Western Sahel, Haiti, Myanmar, Gaza, or Ukraine, represents a fundamental abuse of human rights and demands a robust and sustained response.

The international community must recognise that atrocities do not occur in isolation nor are they bound by geography. The global humanitarian landscape is interconnected, and our response must reflect this reality. By addressing all crises with equal fervour, we honour the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence that guide humanitarian action.

The time to act is now. The world is watching, and history will judge us by our response to these global humanitarian crises. Let us be remembered for our compassion, our equity, and our unwavering commitment to all of humanity.

Dr Jamie Munn, ICVA Executive Director