By Nilay Kar Onum
ISTANBUL (AA) – The second World Humanitarian Action Forum (WHAF) has kicked off in Istanbul with the attendance of global aid agencies from across the world.
The two-day forum, with the theme “Dignity in Humanity,” brought together humanitarian actors from 65 countries to strengthen partnership and collaboration.
The forum also aims to share effective humanitarian practices and responses that affect local, national, and international NGOs.
In his opening speech, Kerem Kinik, head of the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) and vice president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), stressed the importance of Turkey’s aid efforts at “a time of fierce conflicts and immense disasters spread throughout the world.”
“As conflicts and disasters affect millions of people each and every day all around the world, Turkey does not turn a blind eye to those who need humanitarian assistance,” said Kinik.
He told how last year Turkey continued to be the “biggest donor country in the world” in 2018 with official humanitarian aid of $8.4 billion, according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report.
Turkey remained the “most generous country” in 2018 in terms of official humanitarian assistance as a proportion of national income with 0.79% of its gross national income, he said.
“The total amount of the aid that we provided is approximately $3.114 billion. Our target this year is to reach approximately 33 million people and carry out this operation with a $4.5 billion aid budget.
“I hope the World Humanitarian Action Forum will pave the way for a common understanding that should ideally prevail in future humanitarian and development interventions of humanitarian organizations and its affiliated agencies,” said the Kizilay head.
- Roadmap for future generation
For his part, Alvaro Rodriguez, UN resident coordinator in charge in Turkey, stressed the importance of collaboration among humanitarian actors while the region is facing serious humanitarian crises.
Stating that “great challenges are ahead of us,” Rodriguez added, “We have all learned from past experiences. It is important to use this experience in our dialogue.”
“We can share best practices and experiences and take the opportunity to learn from each other’s notes,” he added.
Hany El-Banna, head of the Humanitarian Forum, an international network of NGOs bringing together both Muslim and Western charities, blasted corruption and the exploitation of resources around the world.
"When they abuse the resources of rich Africa, it makes the people of Africa poor," Banna said, underlining the importance of preparing a roadmap for future generations.
"We tried our best to stop war, tried our best to prevent corruption, tried our best to prevent continued systematic rape in various parts of the world," he said.
Addressing the younger generation, Al-Banna said, "Don't make the same mistakes that your parents made."
"You will be better, and build a better future for humanity. Humanity is waiting for you. Our children and people in this room are determined to make a better roadmap for every child on earth," he concluded.
In a written message read out to the forum, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his belief the event would significantly contribute to world peace, brotherhood, and friendship, voicing hope that it would be fruitful.
On day two of the forum, "Dignity Day," sessions are slated on localization, resilience and honoring humanitarian heroes.