UN summit seeks answers to new problems

6:02 pm on 22 May 2016

A humanitarian summit in Turkey will look at the changes needed as the world faces its worst conflicts since WWII, say New Zealand aid agencies.

An overloaded car travels through Assaga refugee camp in Diffa on May 17, 2016, close to the Niger-Nigeria border.

An overloaded car travels through Assaga refugee camp in Diffa this month, close to the Niger-Nigeria border. UN Chief of Humanitarian Operations Stephen O'Brien vowed to raise funds at the World Humanitarian Summit for "significant" help to the more than 240,000 refugees displaced by Boko Haram in south-east Niger.Operations of the UN Stephen O'Brien vowed to raise funds at the next World Humanitarian Summit for "significant" help to the more than 240,000 refugees displaced by Boko Haram in camps in south-east Niger. Photo: AFP

There are 5000 representatives from governments and private aid groups at the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

Billed as the first of its kind bringing together governments, civil society and the private sector, the summit aims to mobilize funds and get world leaders to agree on issues ranging from how to manage displaced civilians to renewing commitments to international humanitarian law.

They include humanitarian co-ordinator Darren Brunk for New Zealand's aid agency umbrella organisation, the New Zealand Council for International Development.

Mr Brunk said conflicts were longer and more violent than in the past, natural disasters were becoming much more severe, and the summit would have a sweeping agenda.

"Because the nature of the types of crises that humanitarians are trying to deal with has changed, it means we have to deal with a lot of issues on the agenda," he said.

Darren Brunk

Darren Brunk Photo: Supplied

"So, everything from how do we reinvigorate the norms and the rules of how humanitarian aid is delivered in conflict settings to how we fund this world of far more difficult and protracted crises than we have seen in the past."

The United Nations estimates that more than 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and that less than 20 percent of the $20 billion needed to fund that is covered.

Branding the summit a "fig-leaf of good intentions", major charity Médecins Sans Frontières pulled out in early May, saying it had lost hope that the meetings could address weaknesses in emergency response.

It said it could not see how the summit could help address the needs of patients and medical staff facing violence in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, displaced civilians blocked at borders in Jordan, Turkey and Macedonia, or refugees and migrants trying to settle in Greece and Australia.

- RNZ / Reuters