Kuwait hosts conference on effective partnership for better humanitarian work
KUWAIT: (From left) Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Fahad Al-Afasi, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Partnerships with the Middle East and Central Asia Rashid Khalikov and IICO Chairman Abdullah Al-Maatouq. — Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh
KUWAIT: Kuwaiti Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Fahad Al-Afasi yesterday acclaimed His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s pioneering role in formulating Kuwait’s holistic humanitarian system. Addressing an annual conference on effective partnership and exchange of information for better humanitarian work, the minister boasted that Kuwaiti charities are working with international partners to support humanitarian work in different world countries.
He stressed the significance of the gathering to serving humanity by means of launching an initiative aiming at feeding a billion hunger people around the globe, and unifying humanitarian efforts against this serious phenomenon. The event, entitled ‘One Humanity against Hunger,’ is organized by the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) under the aegis of His Highness the Amir.
Kuwait is interested in promoting and supporting humanitarian issues and defending human dignity as well as helping the poor and disaster-affected people, he noted. Kuwait is well-placed on the world map of humanitarian activities, he said, citing the honoring of His Highness the Amir as a Humanitarian Leader and Kuwait as a Humanitarian Center as clear-cut examples.
International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) Chairman Abdullah Al-Maatouq said the conference came to stress that Kuwait is really the center of humanitarian work and a destination for societies to highlight the serious issue of hunger and its destructive humanitarian complications. Hunger is a main risk to man’s humanity and health in line with relevant UN statistics and indicators for 2018, he said, adding that more than 821 million people are suffering from hunger across the world.
Meanwhile, GCC Secretary-General Abdul-Latif Al-Zayani appreciated Kuwait’s international humanitarian achievements, which contributed to an effective partnership between the UN and Kuwaiti charities. Speaking at the conference, Zayani said Kuwait is exerting great and distinguished humanitarian efforts, which led to honoring Kuwait as a humanitarian center and His Highness the Amir as a Humanitarian Leader. He added that Kuwait’s hosting of this gathering is deemed an addition to Kuwait’s bright record of humanitarian initiatives and activities aiming at unifying anti-famine efforts worldwide. He also pointed out UN efforts to address this humanitarian issue, mainly a UN General Assembly resolution in September 2015 designating the fight against famine as one of the goals of sustainable development.
The GCC member states have exerted a lot of sincere efforts to help poor and needy countries as part of the fight against famine worldwide, the GCC chief boasted. They have set up economic and social development funds in order to offer aid to these countries’ development programs and plans, mainly regarding health and education, he noted. For instance, Kuwait hosted three international conference in collaboration with the UN to answer the needs of Syrian refugees, especially food and medicine, Al-Zayani added.
In the meantime, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Partnerships with the Middle East and Central Asia Rashid Khalikov said that despite all the global efforts for eliminating hunger, ensuring food-security and helping the people in need the question remains: Why do large numbers of people still in need of assistance or remain hungry? “I think there are five fatal flaws that are allowing so many people to remain hungry,” Khalikov said in his speech to the event, adding that there are too many affected people because they were out of sight and reach. “There are some people who are left out of the loop, or find themselves in crises,” he said. He indicated that the flaws also included individuals who lack financial resources, or out of the economic scope. “Also, in my view, millions on the planet live with hunger and simply cannot afford to buy enough malnourishment because they food,” the official indicated, adding “They also cannot afford nutritious foods, nor can they afford the farming supplies they need to grow enough good food of their own.”
Furthermore, 75 percent of the world’s malnourished people live in conflict zones. Conflict destroys markets and livelihoods, drives mass population displacement, and causes increased risk of acute malnutrition, food insecurity and leads to more hungry people, he said. “We are seeing a situation today with unprecedented levels of need and demands on the humanitarian system: In 2018, some 134 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, up from 26 million one decade ago. The rise in costs is also driven by complex emergencies, fueled by protracted conflict, and marked by high levels of forced displacement, a breakdown in governance structures, basic services and livelihoods,” he added.
Hunger on the rise
After years of steady decline, global hunger is on the rise, primarily linked to conflict, according to the research of World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said Khalikov. “The number of undernourished people has increased from 777 million in 2015 to 821 million in 2017 Although humanitarian assistance has thus far contributed towards preventing large-scale famines, humanitarian needs remain exceptionally high in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan,” he said.
As per the World Disaster reports, 3,751 natural disasters have been recorded over the last ten years and 84.2 percent of them had weather related triggers affecting livelihood and food security in addition to other areas. “Therefore, I am glad that this year the theme of ‘One Humanity Against Hunger’ was chosen for the conference for the participants to discuss the critical issues related to hunger and food security and how to step- up assistance in this area,” he said. “There were around 821 million undernourished people in 2017 or we can say one in every nine people is undernourished. Current hunger hotspots are in the Middle East region.”
Humanitarian partners estimate that 8.4 million people, in Yemen, are severely food insecure and on the verge of starvation. A figure likely to rise to 14 million-half of the country-by the end of 2018 if the fighting does not subside, import obstructions are not removed, and the currency is not stabilized. ”
“Therefore, to eliminate hunger, the values and views of humanity that have served us so well in the past need to be reconsidered today, said We all need to work better together which also means closing the divide between humanitarian and development activities. The United Nations Secretary-General has started the UN reforms, including the United Nations Development System,” he said. This aims to ensure effectively tackling some of the root causes of crises and vulnerabilities, and to genuinely-mobilize the system more effectively for those furthest behind. Humanitarians have been seeking this step for a long time, the UN official added.
He went on saying: “In September 2018, the World Bank and the United Nations launched the ‘Famine Action Mechanism’ which is a global platform to link early warning, finance, and implementation arrangements to increase the impact of international famine mitigation efforts in high-risk countries. You will hear more about this from a World Bank colleague in one of the sessions today. I am confident that more new initiatives and commitments to eliminate hunger will also stem out of this conference today.”
In the forefront
Meanwhile, the official commended the State of Kuwait for its humanitarian contributions to lessen hunger in the world. “Kuwait has always been in the forefront to help alleviate the suffering of people in need. I would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to His Highness the Amir and the people of Kuwait for the continued generosity for supporting the initiative, for the much-needed humanitarian assistance globally.” The State of Kuwait has provided, since 2014, over US dollars 1.4 billion to support humanitarian response globally. According to the financial tracking services the Gulf States have provided, since 2014, over $7.7 billion in humanitarian assistance globally. The State of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the largest contributors to the 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan providing over $ 1.25 billion to assist the humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people, he said. The recent multi-year support of the State of Qatar to the Central Emergency Response Fund is also commendable. It will help promote flexible, predictable and long-term contribution and supports in providing life-saving assistance to the people who need it the most, the UN official concluded. – KUNA