Thursday, 03 December 2020

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Principles matter – not just in principle

Photo Credits: Norwegian Refugee CouncilHow many times have you seen ads asking for donations to Syria lately? What about ads asking money for the crisis in the Central African Republic?

Chances are high the answer is that, out of the two conflicts, Syria is the one that's been bothering you the most. According to a new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a crisis in a geopolitically strategic area normally receives more funding for humanitarian work than a protracted crisis.

December 4th the Principles in Practice: Safeguarding Humanitarian Action conference, organized by NRC took place in Brussels. NRC's report Tools for the Job: Supporting Principled Humanitarian Action provided the foundation for the conference, stating that, even though official funding for humanitarian relief reached 11 billion dollars in 2011, distortions in the way it is allocated mean that distribution is neither efficient nor equitable. According to the report, a crisis in a geopolitically strategic area normally receives more funding for humanitarian work than a protracted crisis.

At the conference in Brussels, donors, state representatives and humanitarian agencies gathered to discuss humanitarian principles. What are they, how and why are they used and where are they headed?

In her opening address, NRC Secretary-General Elisabeth Rasmusson used the situation in Congo to illustrate the importance of humanitarian principles; "Goma is a very concrete example that we are able to stay, independently of who is in control, because both parties know us and trust that we are there only to deliver humanitarian assistance. This shows that adhering to humanitarian principles works," she said, going on to highlight that this adhering is however not easy in a changing humanitarian sector.

"With all these challenges, pressures and dilemmas, there are few clear answers. My organization is participating in this project because we are looking for new answer to these questions," she said.

Among the participants debating such new answers December 5 were the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Kristalina Georgieva, Norway´s Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer and Atta Almanan Bakhit from the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.

Written by, Nordic Desk

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