Humanitarianism in Sri Lanka: Reaching new heights and goals

28 Aug 2017 Authors: Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies
Humanitarianism in Sri Lanka: Reaching new heights and goals

The United Nations is to convene a World Summit to set a renewed agenda to make humanitarian action beyond 2016 more effective, inclusive and global. This summit will take place in Istanbul, Turkey in 2016.  Leading up to these summit consultations have been initiated across various regions to capture thoughts of stakeholders involved in humanitarian activities. The biggest achievement of Sri Lankan consultation is the gathering of 77 humanitarian agencies working in different parts of the country under one roof to discuss how Sri Lanka can contribute towards the ongoing preparation for this summit.  The participants endorsed that humanitarian crises and therefore human suffering as a result of natural and anthropogenic causes are increasing. Financial and other resource capacities required for providing humanitarian assistance are stretched to a breaking point. Although a number of humanitarian agencies are increasing, all with the noble intensions to serve people in need, representatives of many agencies admitted that they lack experience and expertise to handle complex humanitarian issues. The participants were also unanimous in conveying their feelings that there needs to be a change in the approach to humanitarian services. 

Participation in group discussions/debate was generally open and frank. Although there was evidence of reservations and distrust among some participants when questions pertaining to pre and post-war situations came up during the discussion, they did not affect the general outcome of this consultation. 

Every group was of the view that the Sri Lankan narratives pertaining to humanitarian services are derived from actual field experiences relating to poverty, armed conflict, tsunami, floods, landslides, etc. Therefore, Sri Lankan humanitarian experiences and recommendations for change in humanitarian work will be useful globally, and as such, Sri Lanka should be included in any future global deliberations on this topic.

Agreements were reached on the following, which formed the recommendations to the national and global policy makers to make future humanitarian actions effective and relevant.