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Unless political leaders show the will to prevent and end crises, little will change for the millions of children, women and men who are caught up in them.
Leaders must put compassion and courage at the heart of their collective decision-making.
They must use all the leverage they have—political, economic and otherwise—to prevent conflicts and find solutions. And they need to put aside divisions to invest in peaceful and inclusive societies.
Yes, there are international humanitarian and human rights laws. And yes, most States have signed onto them. But unless these laws are respected and monitored by State and non-State fighting parties, and unless violators are held to account each time they break them, then civilians will continue to make up the vast majority of people killed in conflict.
Civilian infrastructure—hospitals, schools, water-pumping stations, people’s houses—will continue to be destroyed and aid workers and volunteers will either continue to be barred from accessing people in need, or they will be put in danger while trying to do so.
Imagine being one of the most vulnerable people in the world. You’ve been forcibly displaced, or drought has killed your harvest for a fifth year running. You are Stateless, or you are being targeted because of your race, religion or nationality.
Now imagine the world says that none of these people will be left behind—that the world’s poorest will be targeted in development programmes, that world leaders will work to halve displacement and come up with strong plans to protect them, that women and girls will be empowered and protected, and that all children, whether in conflict zones or displaced, will be able to attend school.
All of this could be a reality if leaders make and put into action these bold commitments.
Sudden natural disasters will take us by surprise, but many of the crises we respond to are predictable.
Imagine working with at-risk communities and partners to help them prepare for crises so they are less vulnerable when crises strike. Imagine if we not only collected better data on crisis risk, but also acted on it early.
By doing this, we could reduce risk and vulnerability at a global scale.
If we really want to act on our responsibility to vulnerable people, we need to invest in them politically and financially.
We need to increasge funding not only to response, but also to risk and preparedness, to protracted conflicts and to peacebuilding. We need to boost local response through more funding to national NGOs and stop blocks to crucial investments, such as remittances flows.
Aid agencies need to be as efficient as possible as well as transparent about how they are spending their money and we need to be more creative about how we fund, using loans, grants, bonds and insurance mechanisms.