Experts meet in Riyadh to discuss ways to improve effectiveness of humanitarian missions

RIHF session on “Evidence-based Professional Practice In Humanitarian Intervention” in progress

RIYADH (Rahnuma): The 2nd Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum ended on Monday with a commitment to use all available policy resources to reduce the risks and threats to the vulnerable victims of natural disasters and conflicts.

The two-day event featured five panel discussions and a number of other sessions, including a review of developments and global trends in humanitarian initiatives. The aim was to identify ways to improve processes and ways of working that some participants described as out of date and in need of modernization.

“The humanitarian system is antiquated and obsolete,” said David Harden, the managing director of Georgetown Strategy Group, during a session on evidence-based professional practice in humanitarian intervention. “I find it impossibly difficult to break through the procurement process, the bureaucracy and the slowness. They tend to buy process and projects; they don’t tend to buy results.”

Bogdan Dumitru, the senior director of international programs for International Medical Corps, said: “Front lines today are very flexible. They can change overnight. Our capacity remains unfortunately somewhere in the area of the 1980s.”

Trey Hicks, director of the Office of Food for Peace in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the United States Agency for International Development. said: “More than 200 million people are affected by some sort of humanitarian crisis. More than 70 million people are on the run from some sort of humanitarian crisis. The challenges of today aren’t the same sort of crises as those when our humanitarian systems were set up.”

Ibrahima Soce Fall, the World Health Organization’s assistant director general for emergency response, said that 70 percent of communicable-disease cases affect people in fragile areas. Conflict is the reason, he added, as it deprives people of access to proper health facilities. The keys to tackling the problem are information sharing and coordination, he said.

Referencing the most recent, and ongoing, global health crisis, Carl Skau, head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s department of conflict and humanitarian affairs, said: “We strongly support the World Health Organization in its efforts to combat the (coronavirus) outbreak. WHO has a lead role in combating epidemics.”

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