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The Power of Humanity: 100 years and counting

KARACHI: “The humanitarian actors must do more to respond to the needs of world’s most vulnerable people,” states World Disaster Report which was presented by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) at an event organized in collaboration with Pakistan Red Crescent at IBA here on Thursday. The event marks the 100 years celebration of IFRC with the launch of World Disaster Report 2018 titled “Leaving millions No One Behind.”

The massive and growing gap between the funds required and the funds available for humanitarian response is a major factor behind the exclusion of the world’s most vulnerable people. This is why people are at high risk of being left behind by humanitarian response, reveals WDR 2018.

The first session discussed about the challenges faced by local and international humanitarian organizations to meet the needs of people and the constraints of providing humanitarian assistance to all.

In his address, Chairman PRCS Dr. Saeed Elahi said that this is a wake-up call for the entire international humanitarian sector. “We are all trying to do more with less, and the resources available will never grow at the same rate as the humanitarian needs. We will have to make better choices. The World Disaster Report lays out clear recommendations for how to achieve this, and Pakistan Red Crescent Society is looking closely at how to implement these in Pakistan,” said Dr. Saeed Elahi

Adding that he said, local humanitarian groups, including the PRCS, are uniquely placed to overcome the limitations outlined in the report. They are also already present in many areas that international groups find inaccessible. They know who the most vulnerable people are, and how to reach them. They are present before, during and after crises. They are our best hope for ensuring that those most in need of help are no longer left behind.

In this context, PRCS Sindh Chairman Mrs. Shahnaz Hamid highlighted the challenges faced by humanitarian sector in Pakistan. “In Pakistan, for instance in the drought response 2019, the UN OCHA has identified the monetary requirement as $96.3 million, to reach a population of 2.06 million people but that is only 40% of the affected population of Sindh and Baluchistan. So in one way, or the other we do leave millions behind. In our country, we are faced with larger problems. We have a burgeoning population and a struggling economy and are frequently faced with disasters –natural, manmade and emergencies. These result in displacement, loss of livelihood, crops and livestock straining both communities and the national economy.”

Exploring the relevance of World Disaster response in Pakistan, Neil Buhne of UN Pakistan discussed about the challenges faced by international humanitarian organizations and the constraints faced in reaching out to the farthest.

Mr. Thomas Gurtner, Head of Country Office IFRC, highlights five ways that the international humanitarian system leaves people behind. These are lack of money, lack of physical access, lack of understanding of who is in need and how best to help them, and a lack of flexibility in expanding humanitarian assistance to people outside the traditional areas of conflict, disaster, displacement or disease.

The humanitarian sector can – and must – make a stronger effort to meet the most urgent needs, concluded the final session on CSR and philanthropy in Pakistan.

The event marks the celebration of 100 years of IFRC and its work in providing assistance to the national society in disasters and conflicts in Pakistan.

The event included prominent names from academia, philanthropy, international humanitarian organization and corporate sector.

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