India reaffirms commitment to humanitarian assistance

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) India on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to extend its assistance in humanitarian crises in different parts of the world.

“India has been generally supportive of the principles of burden sharing and solidarity in respect of refugees,” Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, said at a symposium here ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit conevened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on May 23-24 in Istanbul.

“However, we have reservations in case there is an attempt to call for a so-called ‘equitable or shared responsibility’ to address refugee crises,” she said.

“…Let me reaffirm India’s commitment to providing humanitarian assistance as per our ability and national circumstances, to neighbouring and other friendly countries, based on their request and conscious of the gravity of the problem.”

Mehta said that India amply demonstrated such commitment to support neighbouring countries during the Nepal earthquake in 2015.

She said that the World Humanitarian Summit, convened by the UN secretary general and organised by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), was significant and was also generating high expectations in terms of what it could achieve.

“The UNSG’s Report estimates the annual deficit in humanitarian relief at $15 billion,” the secretary said.

“The UNSG advocates a new humanitarian aid architecture and seeks new financial arrangements to address consequences of dangerous policies, but does not refer to measures to prevent their emergence in the first place.”

Mehta said that India welcomed the UNSG’s observation that additional humanitarian financing cannot come at the expense of development funding and that developed countries should fulfill their commitments to provide 0.7 pecent of their gross domestic product (GDP) as overseas development assistance (ODA).

“We believe that responsibility sharing should be based on agreed principles of CBDR (common but differentiated responsibilities) and not on nebulous so-called equitable responsibility sharing,” she stated.

“Turning to the immediate – the root causes for the ongoing humanitarian emergencies – the largest movement of people since the Second World War, are deeply embedded in the recent conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria.”

According to the secretary, it is clear that there are fundamental issues surrounding the failure of UN Security Council in preventing the emergence of grave conflict situations in these countries leading to a humanitarian crisis.

“This also points starkly to the need for urgent reform of the UN Security Council,” she said.

She warned that in the absence of strong political leadership to find sustainable solutions, there was a real danger of the humanitarian situation worsening further.

Mehta said that the UN should focus on playing a central role in providing leadership and coordination to the efforts of the international community to support strengthening its response capacity in a cost effective and timely manner.

“This support can include capacity building at local, national and regional levels through training, development of local leadership, thrust towards innovation and resilience building, strengthening of national actors, and so forth,” she said.



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