More than a hundred experts from 20 different countries, convened in the city of Istanbul for a two-day workshop which aimed to promote dialogue and build further capacity for enhancing ‘response’ and ‘resilience’ to humanitarian crises in the 57-member nation block.
The event, dubbed “Enhancing Humanitarian Response and Resilience Through NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) in OIC Member Countries”, was a joint effort by the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), which is the poverty reduction arm of the IsDB, the Turkish Red Crescent (Turk KIZILAY) and the Islamic Relief-UK. The workshop underlined the important role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in particular and key actors as valuable partners in the humanitarian and development sectors by easing the suffering of the afflicted people in fragile countries.
The speakers at the opening ceremony underlined the important role NOGs and CSOs play in providing immediate response in the face of humanitarian crises. In his keynote speech, Dr. Walid Al Wohaib, Director General of ISFD reiterated IsDB Group’s commitment to support the laudable efforts of the international community and OIC Member Countries in addressing emergencies and humanitarian financing, enhancing, the restoration of stability and building resilience thereby giving hope to the children, poor and vulnerable communities affected by manmade and natural disasters. “Business as Usual” cannot address the needs of many children and young people affected by the emergencies. This necessitates having new thinking, new approach and innovation, which are instrumental to tackle this critical global development challenge,” he said.
Another keynote speaker at the event, Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of the Turkish Red Crescent, stressed that “Together with Turkey, several OIC member states have emerged as major humanitarian actors within their particular regions and also globally. Among intergovernmental organizations, the OIC has been one of the fastest-growing humanitarian actors. This has been accomplished through establishing new institutions, adopting new policies, facilitating dialogue and, when required, financing and implementing humanitarian programs on the ground.”
His Excellency Ambassador Musa Kulaklıkaya, Director General of SESRIC, concluded the opening session of the event by stating, “Unfortunately, many of the ongoing conflicts around the world are taking place in the OIC geography. In 2017, above 50 per cent of the world’s wars and limited wars as well as 38 per cent of crises took place in the OIC Member States. The OIC region has become less peaceful over the last 10 years, mostly due to conflicts in our region. Today the OIC Member States account for 61.5 per cent of all displaced population in the world. Furthermore, 89 million people or 71 per cent of people who globally need humanitarian assistance, reside in the OIC Member Countries. Civil society organizations may assist governments in addressing resettling refugees and re-establishing basic human services.”
The two-day workshop in Istanbul (2-3 October 2018) later saw several panel discussions which aimed at sharing best practices and lessons learnt to devise innovative ways and means to better prepare NGOs and CSOs in conflict-afflicted countries and fragile situations. The discussions also included practical recommendations, policy advice to increase humanitarian, development financing as well as shedding light on challenges and opportunities for effective humanitarian, and resilience responses in a bid to develop more mechanisms that are responsive.
Regarding the humanitarian issue, estimates by some major development institutions of the world indicate that the number of people living under fragile and conflict-afflicted circumstances is expected to rise even further by 2030, with poverty, inequality, and lack of access to basic services as major development challenges that exacerbate the destructive impacts of disasters and conflicts in several parts of the world.