UN refugee summit may achieve little

  • 24/05/2016
UN refugee summit may achieve little

Global leaders have met in Istanbul to tackle a "broken" humanitarian system that has left 130 million people in need of aid, a near insurmountable task for a two-day summit that critics say risks achieving little.

Billed as the first of its kind, the United Nations summit aims to develop a better response to what has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, mobilise more funds and find agreement on better caring for displaced civilians.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments, businesses and aid groups to commit to halving the number of displaced civilians by 2030.

"We are here to shape a different future," he said in an address at the start of the conference.

"I urge you to find better long-term solutions for refugees and displaced people based on (a) more equal sharing of responsibilities."

But that may be difficult to attain. The global aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres pulled out of the conference earlier this month saying it had lost hope the participants could address weaknesses in emergency response.

Critics say the global aid system needs greater financing to cope with a proliferation of regional wars and failed states that have ballooned the numbers of displaced people, and to reduce inefficiency and corruption that consume considerable humanitarian funds before they can benefit those most in need.

President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which is saddled with around 3 million refugees from neighbouring Syria's civil war -- the world's largest refugee population in a single country, again accused the West of doing little to help Syrians.

Erdogan has been among President Bashar al-Assad's fiercest critics and sees his removal as essential to ending Syria's war.

"The extent to which the international humanitarian system lies broken is alarming," he wrote in an opinion piece published in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"The international community in particular has largely ignored its responsibilities toward the Syrian people by turning a blind eye to Bashar al-Assad's crimes against his own citizens."