On 2 July, the Irish Humanitarian Summit took place in Dublin.
Organised as a warm-up event for a major UN summit in Istanbul next year, the conference provided an opportunity for NGOs, academics and politicians to come up with proposals on how to improve the system to provide aid to the victims of disasters and conflicts.
In his opening speech, Minister Charlie Flanagan left no doubt as to why it was a good idea to have the conference.
"The number of those in need of assistance has almost doubled in the last decade. Natural disasters are more frequent. They do more damage. They are often followed by further disasters before victims have had a chance to recover from the first. Record numbers of people are fleeing war and persecution. One child in ten lives in a situation of armed conflict. More than half of refugees worldwide are women and children. It is the poorest communities who are worst affected by natural and man-made crises; it is the poorest men, women and children who suffer the most. The amount of humanitarian assistance given by the international community grew last year, but, regrettably, the demand was so great that the increased aid was insufficient to meet the rapid increase in humanitarian needs."
But the highlight of the conference was the speech by President Michael D. Higgins. In stead of quoting from it, we recommend that you read it in its entirety.
In the speech, the President set out the historical and moral reasons why Ireland must take the suffering of others seriously and why we must do more to respect and fulfil the rights of refugees (a point of particular resonance in Ireland, and which made it into the newspapers even as the President was speaking.
Minister of State Seán Sherlock summed up the day. He pointed out that "the international humanitarian system is struggling to cope with demands and that new ways of working are needed, including a more coherent approach between development, political, humanitarian and other actors."