Every day, humanitarian aid workers stand on the front lines of war and disaster, braving tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to those who need it most. World Humanitarian Day is commemorated every year on 19 August, to recognize the efforts of the aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilize nations to advocate for humanitarian action. The day was designated by the General Assembly thirteen years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of 22 UN staff members.
This year, the United Nations is calling for global solidarity with more than 130 million people around the world who are dependent on urgent humanitarian assistance for survival. Under the theme of ‘One Humanity’, World Humanitarian Day highlights the global commitment reiterated during the Istanbul World Humanitarian Summit, to support people affected by crisis and ensure that aid workers can safely and more effectively deliver to those in need.
Recalling this concerted response, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr, Ban Ki-moon, noted in his statement for the day that:
“Hidden behind the statistics are individuals, families and communities whose lives have been devastated. People no different to you and me: children, women and men who face impossible choices every day. They are parents who must choose between buying food or medicine for their children; children who must choose between school or working to support their families; families who must risk bombing at home or a perilous escape by sea.
The solutions to the crises that have plunged these people into such desperate hardship are neither simple nor quick. But there are things we can all do – today, and every day. We can show compassion, we can raise our voices against injustice, and we can work for change.
Earlier this year, 9,000 participants gathered in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. World leaders committed to transform the lives of people living in conflict, disaster and acute vulnerability. They rallied behind the Agenda for Humanity and its pledge to leave no one behind. ”
After more than five years of war in Syria, an end to the human suffering is still nowhere in sight. The United Nations estimates that 10.8 million people have been affected by the conflict and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of this total, 6.5 million are internally displaced in Syria, 4.6 million are refugees in neighbouring countries, and around 241,000 are living under siege conditions.
With a historic record of being on the forefront of humanitarian response, Kuwait has yet again demonstrated its global stewardship and valuable partnership in this regard.
In 2013, 2014 and 2015, three Syria Pledging conferences were hosted by the Government of Kuwait, mobilizing international support. Kuwait contributed US$1.3 billion to the UN agencies as Humanitarian support for the victims of the Syrian crisis. The State of Kuwait is amongst the top four donors to the Syrian crisis worldwide and in 2016, Kuwait again took a lead by co-organizing the Syria Donors Conference in London. During this conference, Kuwait pledged US$300 million.
Thanks to Kuwait’s support as one of the top donors to the Syria Crisis, the United Nations was able to respond to the protracted regional crisis.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has advanced a new integrated approach in support to the resilience of affected populations. To name some key results:
Removal and disposal of more than 1,568 tons of solid waste and 3,510 tons of accumulated debris in more than 18 neighbourhoods in five affected governorates, which created better hygiene and environmental conditions for 283,535 people living in them. Provision of clean water to affected neighbourhoods, which encouraged around 2,500 displaced to return to their homes in Aleppo, Hama and Homs, as well as reduction of provision of electricity through renewable energy resources.
The donations braced around 3,350 employment opportunities (out of which around 1,300 to the most vulnerable) and vocational trainings to 539 people, which continuously strengthens livelihoods of the affected population and accelerates the return of displaced to their homes. Entrepreneurship Support and Microbusiness establishment, demand-driven vocational training, Emergency Employment and Internship Programs were initiated, benefiting 23,000 households’ members in income support.
The State of Kuwait’s humanitarian response to IOM’s call for the relief of victims of armed conflict in Syria and other neighboring countries, is a typical example of the level of cooperation between the organization and the Government of the State of Kuwait, which provided non-food items (NFIs) for nearly 93,000 beneficiaries with a severe need, for newly displaced families, and families living in inaccessible areas or besieged areas. The NFIs included mattresses, blankets, solar lamps, toiletries, adult diapers, plastic sheets and urinal cans.
In Jordan, about 350,000 refugees were registered during the year 2015. Over 360,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon received cash assistance to meet urgent basic needs and to cover costs of winterization such as clothing and fuel. Almost 18,000 Syrian children were able to access the Egyptian school system by receiving education grants. Core relief items, such as blankets, jerry cans and plastic sheeting, were distributed to Syrians displaced in Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Turkey benefitting about 593,690 people.
Community support projects aimed at improving local infrastructure and strengthening refugee – host community relations were implemented in Egypt targeting 540,000 people. Some 16,000 households in Jordan had access to electricity and about 600,000 Syrian refugees received counselling in Lebanon. About 33,500 refugees in Egypt and Lebanon were able to receive much-needed health care. This contribution also allowed UNHCR to provide shelter and improve infrastructure in camps for 123,000 refugees in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
Organization of training courses, in cooperation with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, on data collection and analysis, for local partners in the humanitarian field facilitated humanitarian relief efforts and expanded reach of UN organization to conflict affected countries.
On 9 September 2014, the United Nations Secretary General presented HH the Amir of the State of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah with the Humanitarian Leader Award. This is a global recognition for His Highness’ wise leadership and generosity in exemplifying the theme of ‘One Humanity’. It is also a reflection of HH commitment to the achievement of the Sustainable Development goals, namely, Goal # 16 on Peace and Security and the Goal # 17 on Partnerships for the goals. HH speech in that respect, during the summit highlighted:
“The State of Kuwait has always shouldered its regional and international responsibilities towards the achievement of the development goals, and worked on their promotion by addressing positively and effectively issues pertaining to them.
My Country hosted in the past few years a number of High-level economic, developmental and humanitarian conferences, and launched numerous initiatives to promote partnership and cooperation in the developmental and humanitarian fields. We are constantly following the progress and the implementation mechanism of those initiatives to ensure that their declared objectives are being met.”
Responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian efforts, we can be confident that by standing fast to our commitment to the Agenda 2030, Kuwait and its partners in the international community can build a world of lasting prosperity guided by H.H. The Amir as the Global Humanitarian Leader and Kuwait as the Humanitarian center.