Eminent thinkers and frontline workers of current crises around the world joined together in Sydney yesterday for one day of debate and discussion about the changing face of humanitarian action.
The Humanitarian Forum, held alongside the international meetings of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, addressed the challenges witnessed today in the provision of support and assistance during times of armed conflict, disruption and displacement.
Panellists acknowledged the increasingly complex and multi-dimensional nature of the issues at hand, and how organisations must rethink how they operate and reach those people in need.
"Never put your principles aside," said Mrs. Niki Rattle, speaker of the Cook Islands Parliament.
Maintaining personal integrity and organisational neutrality and impartiality emerged as a common theme across the day. This was key for journalists, aid workers and justice commissioners alike. Working in conflict zones across the world, these principles are absolutely fundamental to Red Cross Red Crescent's response.
Yves Daccord, Director General, International Committee of the Red Crescent described trust as the central challenge of the humanitarian sector: being known and trusted as neutral and impartial by all parties to a conflict, including government and non-government groups. It provides access to move across variously occupied territories to deliver aid and keep volunteers and staff safe.
Fatima Gailani, President of the Afghan Red Crescent expanded on just how vital maintaining neutrality is to the safety of 40,000 Afghan Red Crescent volunteers.
Similarly in Syria, Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent went on to say that the humanitarian crisis would be even worse if it were not for the thousands of Red Crescent volunteers who risk their lives everyday to provide relief and protection.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop also addressed the audience on the day that the Federal Government announced additional Australian emergency assistance to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.
Australian Red Cross has launched Typhoon Haiyan Appeal to assist the communities of the Philippines and Vietnam affected by the typhoon. You can assist those people affected by making a donation. Donations can be made:
- online or via credit card by phoning 1800 811 700, 8am to 8pm AEDT
- over the counter at any branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
- by mail to Typhoon Haiyan Appeal, Australian Red Cross, Supporter Services Centre, GPO Box 2957, Melbourne VIC 8060