Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary General,
Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, with as many as 1.5 million Syrian refugees and over 300,000 Palestine Refugees currently living in the country. Five years into the Syrian crisis, the living conditions of both refugees and Lebanese host communities are continuing to deteriorate. This crisis, which is increasingly complex and protracted, presents significant challenges for humanitarian action in a country which has been facing recurring emergencies for the past 40 years.
Your “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” report for the World Humanitarian Summit, which is taking place in Istanbul on 23 and 24 May 2016, calls for no one to be left behind, in particular those affected by mass displacement. We, local and international organizations active in Lebanon, consider that within the framework of the World Humanitarian Summit it is urgent to address the following four pressing issues in order to ensure that refugees and the communities who host them in Lebanon are not left behind:
1. Preventing and ending conflict. World leaders must find a political solution to end the conflict in Syria. With almost 13.5 million people in dire need inside Syria, 5 million refugees living in neighboring countries and a stalled political process, the situation will become even more precarious unless urgent action is taken to work towards a sustainable peace (Core Responsibility 1), uphold international humanitarian law (Core Responsibility 2), and re-commit to international refugee protection (Core Responsibility 3).
2. Addressing root causes of conflict to prevent recurrent crises. Humanitarian action should recognize that tackling social, economic and political causes of conflicts is the most sustainable response to prevent and deal with humanitarian crises. We therefore call upon all world leaders to adopt a rights-based approach to the root causes of conflict as a priority, and to actualize their global commitment to improving the inter-linkages between humanitarian and development aid (Core Responsibility 4).
3. Addressing the complementarity of humanitarian action and putting greater emphasis on localized and contextualized responses to crises. Crisis-affected populations are better served when the humanitarian community ensures that the response is locally contextualized. The recognition of local civil society’s efficiency and expertise is essential to crisis response and to critically assessing standardized aid packages and approaches. The comparative advantages of all available international, national and local actors, including grassroots mobilization, should guide humanitarian action. We therefore call upon world leaders to enable local civil society organizations to play a greater and meaningful leadership role in humanitarian action. This must be achieved through balanced partnerships with international non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations (in line with the Principles of Partnership; as endorsed by the Global Humanitarian Platform, July 2007), multi-stakeholder response leadership and decision-making that is fully inclusive of Local organizations, along with innovative funding mechanisms that enable more resources to be mobilized and channeled directly to local actors (Core Responsibilities 4 and 5).
4. Recognizing the role of volunteerism as a vector of local expertise in humanitarian action. Local populations are the first responders to crises, and their skills and engagement in responding to the consequences of crises in their communities need to be recognized and integrated within the wider national/international response. We therefore call upon world leaders to consider and treat local populations and volunteers as key actors of humanitarian action (Core Responsibility 4).
We look forward to the opportunity in Istanbul to exchange on these and other issues critical to realizing our collective commitments to people affected by crises, and to the concrete actions that will be outlined to end conflict, alleviate suffering and reduce risk.
List of Signatories ABAAD Resource Centre for Gender Equality ADRA Lebanon Al Amal Institute Al Majmoua Amel Association International Association Najdeh Basmeh & Zeitooneh Besme International Group for Humanitarian Assistance Care Caritas Lebanon Common Bond Institute Concern Dawaer Foundation Diakonia, Lebanon Office Dorcas Lebanon | Relief & Development DRC Lebanon Fair Trade Lebanon Handicap International Hariri Foundation Humanitarian Forum UK International Alert International Center for Organizational Development (ICOD) International Humanistic Psychology Association International Humanitarian Relief (IHR) Intersos Islamic Relief Worldwide Karma - Support for diseased Children and Adolescents in Lebanon Kvinna till Kvinna Lamset Ward Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) Lebanese Developers Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering Lebanon Support LOST - Lebanese Organisation for Studies and Training Makassed Foundation Makhzoumi Foundation Manna Charity Médecins du Monde Media Association for Peace (MAP) Medical Teams International Mercy Corps Migration Services and Development Mouvement Social Palestinian Child and Youth Institute Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale Salam LADC: International Volunteers Sawa for Development and Aid Solidar Suisse Tabitha for Relief and Development The Sweater & Wheat Relief Association Terre des Hommes Italia The National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training (Beit Atfal Assumoud) Triumphant Mercy Lebanon URDA World Vision International Yalla! Pour Les Enfants Youth for Development