As a response to the increasingly alarming humanitarian situation in Libya and to support regional humanitarian leadership, The Humanitarian Forum organised a follow up to its first coordination meeting jointly together with the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). For the second time in weeks, we have brought together a variety of humanitarian actors to coordinate their relief efforts.
London, 9 May 2011
Following our humanitarian coordination meeting conference on 24 March attended by 42 organisations, LAS and OIC joined forces to organise the first collaborative aid convoy to East Libya engaging 20 different humanitarian agencies from Egypt, Libya and the UK. This is one example illustrates the formation of new partnerships between national and international humanitarian actors and the renewal of humanitarian leadership in the area.
On 8 May we convened a follow up meeting hosted by the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Conference, which brought together 80 representatives from 57 organisations from UN, Red Cross movement, western international NGOs, Islamic INGOs and from Egypt and Libya.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Abdelaziz Hegazy, former Egyptian prime Minister, spoke of the "new emergencies were born as a result of the many unexpected and unpredictable conflicts that have erupted recently in the Middle East" and how essential it was for humanitarian actors to coordinate among themselves. He called OIC and LAS and donor community to immediately create a humanitarian relief fund for Libya crisis: "There are costs to many lives if we procrastinate".
Dr. Ahmad Hussein brought greetings from the OIC Secretary-General and said that "the humanitarian situation in Libya has become dangerous and very critical". He challenged participants to have the spirit of cooperation, the spirit of determination and a drive for complementarity.
Her Excellency Dr. Sima Bahous, representing the League of Arab States, remarked upon the importance of the meeting: “...it is a pivotal moment in history for the Islamic Development Bank, the UN, League of Arab States, non-governmental organisations and regional governmental bodies to work together on a humanitarian crisis in the Arab world”.
Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR Head of Donor Relations, recognised that "Arab organisations play a very important role" and echoed calls for cooperation made by the OIC.
Commenting on the need to coordinate relief efforts in and around Libya, Sheikha Hissa K. A. Althani, former UN Special Rapporteur on Disability said "the whole region is on fire".
Ahmed Ben Moussa, head of the Libyan National Transitional Council's humanitarian aid committee, gave a first hand briefing of the humanitarian situation in different parts of the country and said that "Libya is on the verge of collapse". He thanked the organisers of the conference and said that the participants' "voice of serving humanity will overcome the voice of death in Libya".
Sir Nicholas Young, head of the British Red Cross, believes that Libya showed the need for The Humanitarian Forum's work: the links, commitment and shared understanding between humanitarian organisations in the West and East. "Perhaps this has never been so important in history." He also called for long-term investment in supporting civil society and charities to provide sustainable services to citizens and complement the role of governments and the private sector.
The meeting concluded with commitments from OIC and LAS to play a leading role in coordinating humanitarian efforts alongside UN OCHA and others. OIC and LAS will also organise a second humanitarian convoy involving 50 humanitarian agencies.
Both the Libyan National Transitional Council Humanitarian Aid Committee and UN OCHA called all attending humanitarian agencies to jointly influence governments and regional bodies to: Þ improve operational humanitarian coordination and regularly share information with the Committee and UN OCHA;
Þ increase funding for humanitarian aid at all stages of rescue, relief and recovery;
Þ guarantee protection of civilians from armed violence;
Þ provide all humanitarian actors with safe access to civilians in all areas of Libya.
Oxfam offered to be a resource for influencing and passing on messages to European and African Governments, media and other stakeholders.
Supporting Libyan CSOs was deemed a priority, particularly for the emerging democratic women and youth movement. The Humanitarian Forum and the Islamic Development Bank express their commitment to build the capacity of newly formed CSOs and support networking between them.
Dr. Hany El Banna concluded the meeting by saying that this was one step in building and supporting a vibrant democratic and free civil society in Libya. "The Humanitarian Forum is honoured to act as a bridge and facilitator of the meeting. The OIC and LAS are the real forces that will lead the Arab organisations to save civilians in Libya ."
This meeting follows a series of coordination and training workshops that The Humanitarian Forum has organised over 12 days in Libya. Download our Libya leaflet here for the latest updates. See a selection of the pictures from the workshops on our Flickr page.
Events like these illustrate our approach of bringing together key humanitarian and development organizations from Muslim donor and recipient countries, the West and inter-governmental organisations like the UN to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of aid by addressing identified gaps between humanitarian communities through training, dialogue and cooperation, working internationally and in partner countries.
Note to Editors: The Humanitarian Forum is a network of key humanitarian and charitable organizations from Muslim donor and recipient countries, the West and the multilateral system. Recognizing the challenges facing NGOs in many countries, we want to improve the lives of those affected by disasters by developing the capacity of NGOs and building partnerships.
In MENA, we have held similar conferences in Gaza, Somalia and Yemen; we support a forum in Yemen through funding, training and connections; we will start to work in Sudan and South Sudan.
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