A large truck delivers aid to Syrians in Aleppo (Jesuit Refugee Service).
Relief services are time-sensitive. We cannot wait to act. All states, donors and aid agencies must follow core humanitarian standards to ensure that the millions affected by conflict across the world get the assistance and protection they need, when they need it.
Rome, 2 March 2015 – Together with organisations such as Christian Aid, Caritas International, the Islamic Relief Worldwide, and the International Rescue Committee, the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) calls on humanitarian actors and states in conflict regions to "re-affirm their commitment to respect and to promote the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, towards any stakeholders involved in humanitarian crises."
JRS, alongside 47 other agencies, signed a joint statement in Hungary in late February to protect the fundamental right of those affected by conflict to access humanitarian aid. The NGOs developed the statement as part of the European consultations that will contribute to the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit hosted by the United Nations. The signatories recognise that "humanitarian action is driven by a sense of humanity, a willingness to relieve human suffering, regardless of culture, origins or religion."
Humanitarian aid operations are a matter of international solidarity, which should not threaten national sovereignty. Governments in conflict regions must not only provide national humanitarian support, they must also facilitate the work of others actors in the region to deliver humanitarian aid, the statement urges.
In many volatile and insecure environments, lines are blurred between military and political activities (i.e. counter-terrorism tactics) and humanitarian aid, making it difficult for aid agencies to operate. The joint statement insists that governmental and institutional funding must remain independent of political agendas. Furthermore, the NGOs call on conflict-affected states to "allow and support full unimpeded access to all people in need of assistance and promote the safety, protection and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel."
"We are in the midst of some of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II: the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria. Reaching people quickly and effectively must to be our priority. We call on governments to cooperate with international humanitarian actors and to hasten the delivery of relief services," JRS International Director Peter Balleis SJ said.
"Relief services are time-sensitive. We cannot wait to act. All states, donors and aid agencies must follow core humanitarian standards to ensure that the millions affected by conflict across the world get the assistance and protection they need, when they need it."
Consequently, the support provided by outside actors must remain needs-based, rather than be used as a crisis management tool by donors. The aid agencies should abide by these humanitarian principles to remain accountable to those they serve. The signatories call on all international actors to "review and design all humanitarian policies in compliance with the humanitarian principles and enhance existing commitments for good donor practices such as the Good Humanitarian Donorship principles."
The World Humanitarian Summit next year aims to find innovative methods to approach humanitarian crises and reduce persons' vulnerability. Looking forward, Fr Balleis said "next year's World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul is the time to stress the importance of these humanitarian principles. Only then will we have a solid foundation from which to serve others."
Joint Statement on humanitarian principles endorsed by 48 humanitarian NGOs as a common contribution to the World Humanitarian Summit consultations as of 27 February.
Today, the humanitarian sector faces an unprecedented number of protracted and acute humanitarian crises, such as the crisis in Syria, in Central African Republic, in South Sudan or the regional Ebola crisis, compelling humanitarian actors to stretch existing structures and practices to breaking point. Considering the role the World Humanitarian Summit may play in the future of humanitarian action, it is of utmost importance that the international community uses this opportunity to reaffirm the shared value of humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
The humanitarian principles emerged from International Humanitarian Law and are based on a common understanding that humanitarian action is driven by a sense of humanity, a willingness to relieve human suffering, regardless of culture, origins or religion. They are encompassed within the core of key humanitarian references, such as the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief or the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.
NGOs are operating in exceptionally volatile and insecure environments where political agendas are interfering with the delivery of humanitarian aid, causing increased threats to the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers and assets, and in some situations hamper impartial access of affected population to relief operations. For example, the growing numbers of counter-terrorism laws and measures adopted by States and inter- governmental organizations are restricting humanitarian actor's ability to develop partnerships, run projects in complex environments, and are delaying programs implementation. The involvement of some donor states in stabilization operations in many contexts where humanitarian aid is needed, are increasingly blurring lines between political, military and humanitarian objectives, thus reducing humanitarian NGOS abilities to deliver aid. Therefore, due respect of the principles implies that governmental and institutional funding must remain detached from political or other agendas.
While affected states keep the primary responsibility to organize and deliver humanitarian support, they also have the fundamental duty to facilitate the work of other actors in situations when international solidarity is requested to answer the needs. Relief operations should not be considered as a challenge to State sovereignty nor the humanitarian imperative be undermined by making national sovereignty an excuse.
We concur that re-shaping aid is urgent with new actors and new donors playing bigger roles. Humanitarian aid must remain based on the needs as assessed by humanitarian actors and donors should abstain from using aid as a crisis management tool.
Consequently humanitarian NGOs, concerned about the threats posed on these principles, take the opportunity of the World Humanitarian Summit to strongly reassert their commitment to the humanitarian principles, as being critical in guaranteeing people in need will have safe access to humanitarian aid. The humanitarian principles must be fully supported and adequately implemented by states and all organizations, and systematically feed all policies and practices on humanitarian aid.
As humanitarian NGOs involved in crises around the world today, we strongly call upon Humanitarian actors, Donors, States and all parties involved in conflicts, to:
- Re-affirm their commitment to respect and to promote the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, towards any stakeholders involved in humanitarian crises, and re-affirm the value of the humanitarian imperative;
- Review and design all humanitarian policies in compliance with the humanitarian principles and enhance existing commitments for good donor practices such as the Good Humanitarian Donorship principles;
- Reaffirm and protect the fundamental right for affected populations to access humanitarian aid;
- Allow and support full unimpeded access to all people in need of assistance and promote the safety, protection and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel.
ACF International, ACT Alliance, ACTED, ADRA, Alianza por la Solidaridad, Arche noVa e.V., Bioforce, CARE International, Caritas Internationalis, CBM International, Center for Vicitms of Torture, ChildFund International, Christian Aid, Comitato Internazionale Sviluppo dei popoli (CISP), Concern Worldwide, DanChurchAid, Danish Refugee Council, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Finnish Church Aid, Habitat For Humanity International, Handicap International, Help - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe, HelpAge International, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Jesuit Refugee Service, Life for Relief and Development, Malteser International, MEDAIR, Médecins du Monde, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, People In Need, Premiere Urgence - Aide Medicale Internationale, Questscope for Social Development in the Middle East, Relief International, Secours Islamique France, Solidarites International, Terre des homes, The Lutheran World Federation, Tierarzte ohne Grenzen, Welthungerhilfe, World Vision International
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