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World Humanitarian Day: so many responses around the globe

By Fiona McSheehy, Head of Response Team

Dunya* with her five children in Dohuk, where they found sanctuary.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen further mass displacement in Iraq; a continuing escalation of the Ebola crisis in West Africa; and terrible conflict in Gaza, interspersed with all-too-fragile ceasefires.

At the same time, we’re continuing to respond to the worsening situation for children in both South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR).

And our humanitarian support to the Syrian crisis is ongoing.


Difficult decisions with finite resources

Awful though it sounds, it can get to the point where all this almost seems like ‘business as usual’.

Yet the global situation looks likely to get even worse.

Many parts of East and Central Africa are facing serious food shortages if prevention measures are not put in place.

There is also growing concern for Central America, as drought and an infestation known as ‘coffee rust’ devastate livelihoods there.

At times, it is very difficult to determine how best to make use of our limited resources.

How do we take decisions about ways to improve the lives of children in such diverse contexts as failed Central American coffee harvests, medical emergency in West Africa, or uncertainty in Gaza – and, in addition to the many children directly involved in ongoing conflicts, how do we help those many, many others affected by the massive displacement of people that invariably results?


Unprecedented number of appeals

Currently we have five appeals open, with Iraq and Gaza joining the longer-running appeals for South Sudan, CAR and the Syria crisis. This number is unprecedented.

We know we run the risk of overwhelming people with the scale of the need. The truth is, sometimes it is overwhelming for us also.

As I write this I am struggling with yet more requests – up to three million people have been displaced by floods in India and conflict has forced thousands to flee their homes in Pakistan. As an organisation we have reserves of staff and funds to ensure we can respond where needed; but our reserves are running dry.


Operating beyond what seems possible

Yet thanks to the hard work by colleagues here and in regional and country offices across the world, as well as the generosity and commitment of our supporters, we are able to operate far beyond what I would have thought possible.

We continue to respond to children and families in incredibly difficult circumstances, providing practical and emotional support.

It will never be enough, but we focus our efforts on doing the very best we can with the resources we have available.

At times like these – and on a day like World Humanitarian Day –  we want to take a minute to say a big thank you to every person across the world, including every one of our supporters, who works so hard to make a difference to the lives of children caught up in horrors beyond their control or understanding.

Thank you. The trouble seems endless but the effort is remarkable. And the difference we make really can be life-changing for those we support.


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