World Humanitarian Summit Begins In Instanbul; Some Critics Worry Meeting Will Not Deliver Reform

Deutsche Welle: Can heaven help the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit?
“…[I]s faith capable of driving economic development in poor countries, helping refugees start new lives and denying terror groups a foothold? Donors and world leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel among them, will be asking that question when they meet in Istanbul for the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit on May 23. … Religion is at the top of the agenda…” (De Oliveira, 5/21).

The Guardian: World humanitarian summit starts amid hope, hype, and fear of empty words
“Hundreds of world leaders and politicians will descend on Istanbul on Monday in a nominal attempt to reform the global humanitarian system, despite criticism that their summit is a photo-opportunity that will achieve little. Representatives of 175 countries, including 57 heads of states or governments, will attend the world humanitarian summit, as the outgoing U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attempts to restructure the way the world responds to humanitarian crises. … The key commitments to which he hopes leaders will agree include better structuring of aid; more funding for local groups; greater respect for the rules of war; better planning for disaster situations and climate change; and wider sharing of refugee populations…” (Kingsley, 5/23).

New York Times: Thin on Influence, World Humanitarian Summit Will Tackle Aid Crisis
“…The machinery of humanitarian aid is not only broke — but, according to many critics, also broken. To address these problems, the United Nations is sponsoring the first World Humanitarian Summit, starting on Monday in Istanbul. But most of the world’s most powerful leaders — those whose soldiers and diplomats can end wars and hold accountable those who violate international humanitarian law — are not going…” (Sengupta, 5/21).

Reuters: As humanitarian needs grow, USAID chief says the world must act
“…Gayle Smith, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), described a global humanitarian system stretched to the limit by the number of disasters and a growing funding gap compounded by emergency responses that cost more than traditional relief methods. … Smith is set to lead the U.S. delegation to the first U.N. World Humanitarian Summit on Monday and Tuesday in Istanbul, which will include donor countries, U.N. agencies, and non-governmental organizations…” (Wroughton, 5/22).

U.N. News Centre: WHS: U.N. humanitarian summit to ‘shape a different future,’ Ban tells thousands at opening
“At the opening of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul [Monday], United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the president of Turkey, relief activists, and international celebrities to urge the global community to shape a different future for the world. ‘We are all here because global humanitarian action is unprecedentedly strained,’ Mr. Ban told thousands of participants attending the opening ceremony…” (5/23).

USA TODAY: Rights groups call for action at first humanitarian summit
“Human rights groups on Friday called for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit to result in meaningful action in tackling crises affecting millions of people around the world. … Humanitarian organization Oxfam said improving the response to major incidents will have a limited impact if governments don’t address the underlying causes…” (Onyanga-Omara, 5/20).

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