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U.N. Chief Calls for Shaping Different Future at Humanitarian Summit | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon holds a joint news conference with UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (not pictured) in Montreux January 22, 2014. Syria’s government and its enemies come face to face on Wednesday for the first time as world powers try to set aside their own differences and push for an end to three years of civil war that is unsettling the entire Middle East. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (SWITZERLAND – Tags: POLITICS)

Outgoing U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on government and business leaders, aid groups and donors to commit to halving the number of displaced civilians by 2030.

“We are here to shape a different future,” Ban said in a speech at the start of a two-day humanitarian summit in Istanbul.

“I urge you to commit to cutting (by) half (the number of) internally displaced people by 2030 and to find better long-term solutions for refugees and displaced people based on more equal sharing of responsibilities,” he said.

The unprecedented World Humanitarian Summit is being convened in a bid to better tackle what the U.N. describes as the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

The gathering was conceived four years ago by Ban. In preparation, 23,000 people were consulted in over 150 countries, U.N. officials say.

The U.N. under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said the summit’s success would be defined not by funds raised but by the number of commitments to action made.

He said the summit is “a once in a generation opportunity to set in motion an ambitious and far-reaching agenda.”

“In this ever globalizing world where we know things so quickly, we need to be able to reach the people who have the greatest vulnerability and need, and the ones who are furthest behind first,” O’Brien stated.

“It is people caught up in crisis through no fault of their own who need us to be even better at delivering humanitarian action of food and shelter, and making sure that water and sanitation and medical treatment is available to them,” he added.

Hailing the prospects of the summit, Herve Verhoosel, the summit’s spokesman, said: “It’s the first time in 70 years of U.N. history that a summit has been organized to talk about humanitarian issues.”

“Today we’re living in the worst humanitarian situation since world war two – we have 125 million people in need of humanitarian support in the world. Can we cope with that situation working the same way we do today, or do we need to change it? That’s why the secretary general has called this conference.”

“We have tremendous suffering in the world today. There is huge need for us to show solidarity with those who are affected by natural disasters and man-made disasters,” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters at a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the summit in Istanbul on Monday that Turkey expects a fairer sharing of the burden of dealing with refugees.

He reiterated that his country is hosting the highest number of refugees in the world.

“We have not been able to receive the necessary support and contribution from the international community on the refugee crisis, and we now expect a fairer sharing of the burden,” Erdogan said.