Helping displaced people: The Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for a Non-Profiting Non-Abelian Organization
Jan Egeland talks in a calm manner, but becomes animated when discussing the record number of people displaced because of humanitarian crises.
Last year we helped over 10 million refugees and displaced people; this year we need to reach even more. The enemies are bigger and worse, so we need to be quicker and smarter, responding to crises earlier, providing support for the longer term and helping people to become self-reliant as soon as possible. To accomplish that, we have to do it with local colleagues, and the money will support staff development. In Afghanistan we have 1,400 humanitarian workers and just 25 of them are international. In general, 99% of our staff are non-Norwegian. This funding will allow us to intensify our mediation between warring ethnic groups, as well as farmers competing for land and water resources.
In recognition of these efforts, the council this year has been awarded the world’s largest annual humanitarian award for a nonprofit — worth $2.5 million.
The Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize recognizes extraordinary contributions that alleviate the suffering of humans.
Frontline humanitarian organization in conflict areas: from Norway to the Democratic Republic of Congo, from Bosnia to the Sudan, and the United States to the Middle East
Egeland was a former Norwegian foreign minister and served as secretary general of the council. Upon returning from a trip to Somalia in June, he spoke with NPR about overlooked crises, equal protection for all refugees and reasons to hope.
We are a frontline humanitarian organization assisting refugees and displaced people in conflict areas. It was established after the liberation of Norway from the Nazis. At the time, Norway was a poor country receiving Marshall Aid assistance from the United States, but our founders saw that the situation was even worse for most of the rest of Europe. Our early relief efforts focused on refugees in Austria, Germany, Poland and the Balkans — and it grew from there. Today we have 16,000 field workers in most of the biggest crises and wars of our time, from Ukraine to Colombia, from Congo to Myanmar.
We issue an annual report measuring the number of people in greatest need versus the corresponding international media coverage, money directed toward the crises and diplomatic efforts to halt hostilities. Last year the top 10 of the most neglected conflicts and displacement crises in the world were in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a colossal emergency where more than 25 million people are in need, yet it receives scant attention. It is the same for all of them.
Ukrainian refugees received a lot of media attention and funding. The Russian invasion was launched in February. What has changed for people who have fled from their country?
The NRC has been in Ukraine since the 2014 Donbas conflict, but now the situation is much worse, with trench warfare and the destruction of entire cities engulfing millions of civilians. In some areas, we are able to help the internally displaced, and in others, we are able to help Ukrainians who fled abroad. At the same time, others continue to be driven out from the south and the east of the country. I fear for the winter. We are preparing a winterization program because millions of people will be freezing soon.
It’s good that we want to help our neighbor who has the same religion and looks alike as us, but we should also give protection according to need. Ukrainians are welcome in Europe as long as they have a cold shoulder and barbed wire. It’s the same in the U.S., where women and children fleeing horrific violence in central America are not always well received. This is a battle of values, and we must stand squarely on the side of those who need protection.
neutrality, impartiality and independence are the humanitarian principles we live by. We need to make sure that our colleagues don’t get too close to a government which is involved in the conflict. We have to have the protection for those parties, as well. We always try to work on all sides – it pains me that we’re not able to work in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.
It is now over a year since the West left Afghanistan, leaving behind 40 million mainly women and children, and they need our solidarity now more than ever. There must be engagement between the de facto authorities and the donor countries on issues such as girls’ education and minority protection. The very wrong response is to impose sanctions that do not take away food from Taliban soldiers but do make women and children starve.
I’m afraid of that. One hundred million people have now for the first time in recorded history been displaced by war and violence. 40 million was the number in 2011. This year is the most children going to bed hungry in modern times. We need some countries to recognize that while they are struggling with high energy prices and nationalistic tendencies at home, it is significantly worse in the areas where we operate.
It’s dramatic. Moms and dads walk hundreds of kilometers to get water and food. We need growth and investment, resilience, and better use of resources. The BricS group of NGOs created to balance short-term needs with long-term community readiness are part of the Building Resilient Communities in Afghanistan. I witnessed dams being built, and bore holes equipped with solar-powered pumps so people can start to feed themselves independently.
Join and support the international NGOs. To live by rules of compassion and solidarity write to politicians. Reach out to those refugees and migrants who come to our communities, befriend them, help them integrate.
It is a time of horrific contrasts. There have been so many people who were displaced because of conflict and violence that they didn’t have a chance to feed themselves. Climate change, COVID and conflict have merged to create a lethal cocktail. But the good news is that never have there been more effective national and international humanitarian and development organizations, better technological advances and greater resources. We should be able to elevate the two billion people because there were never as many billionaires. Those at the very top have astronomical resources and they alone could have helped us reach people in great need.
Whenever I return from visiting colleagues who are working in difficult and dangerous circumstances, I am always an optimist. We have helped a million children go to school and when I ask them what they want to be when they are older, they all want to be doctors, engineers, farmers and builders.
Sedat was found in Hatay with the help of his brother, Erodgan, a journalist reported by the Associated Press
More than 21,000 people have died in Turkey and Syria after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck on Monday, and rescue workers are now racing against time to pull survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings in freezing winter conditions.
The Syrian Health Ministry has stated that more than 1,200 people have died from the earthquake in other parts of Syria. Over 16,000 people have died in Syria and Turkey, according to The Associated Press. More than 100,000 people have been injured.
In a visit to the city of Kahramanmaras, where the epicenter of the earthquake is located, Turkey’s President explained that the country is facing a great disaster. Erodgan said that no one would be left in the streets after the earthquake but admitted that there was shortfalls by his government. Erdogan will also travel to the worst-hit province of Hatay on Wednesday.
I think my son is still alive, I know he’s inside. She told NPR that his brother dug to find him. Hours later, as diggers chipped away at the ruins of the building, rescuers found Sedat’s body and wrapped it in a blanket for his mother to say goodbye.
The First UN Aid Convoy in Turkey Since the 2004 July 11 Earthquake: Implications for Emergency Operations in Damascus
Many areas of Syria have been isolated because of the conflict. The United Nations said the first earthquake-related aid convoy crossed from Turkey into northwestern Syria on Friday, the day after an aid shipment planned before the disaster arrived.
Seventy countries and 14 international organizations have offered Turkey relief following the quake, Erdogan said on Tuesday, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the UAE, Israel and Russia.
Turkey’s emergency management agency, AFAD, reports it has set up more than 70,000 tents for emergency shelter to the more than 380,000 people who have been temporarily displaced by this disaster.
DUBAI — In a dusty, industrial corner of Dubai, far from the city’s gleaming skyscrapers and marbled buildings, boxes of child-sized body bags are stacked in a massive warehouse. They will be shipped to Syria and Turkey for earthquake victims.
The head of the World Health Organization came to Syria on Saturday and brought 35 tons of medical equipment, according to SANA. He said another plane carrying an additional 30 tons of medical equipment will arrive in the coming days.
There are labels that help identify which kits are for certain diseases around the world. Emergency health kits that are green are ones for Istanbul and Damascus.
“The ones that we used in response to the earthquake are primarily trauma and emergency surgery kits,” says Robert Blanchard, the team lead in Dubai for the WHO’s emergency operations.
Blanchard is a former firefighter from California who worked in the Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development before joining the WHO in Dubai. The organization is facing many logistical challenges, but they have warehouses in D.C. which help deliver aid quickly to countries in need.
A UN aid convoy made up of six trucks carrying non-food items crossed from Turkey into northwest Syria through the only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and rebels in northern Syria.
“The weather conditions are now not looking so great. It just depends on the roads, the trucks and the permission to cross the border for the humanitarian aid to be delivered.
The International Humanitarian City (ICHA) — A Central Hub of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Middle East, with Special Report on CNN’s Mai El Sadany
The homes that they’re not able to go home because they haven’t been cleared by an engineer as being sound. “They’re literally sleeping and living in the office and trying to do work at the same time.”
The International Humanitarian City is in a 1.5 million square foot zone and includes the WHO’s warehouses. The zone is also home to warehouses for the U.N. refugee agency, World Food Program, Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations, UNICEF and others.
Storage facilities, utilities and flights that carry relief items into affected areas are paid for by the government. The inventory is procured by the agencies themselves.
Saba says $150 million worth of emergency stock and assistance is dispatched every year to between 120 and 150 countries. Personal protective equipment, tents, food, and other items are critical in disasters like the COVID-19 PAIN and medical emergencies.
The reason that this hub became the largest one in the world was because of it’s strategic position. You can serve two-thirds of the world’s population from a few hours’ flight from Abu Dhabi in the Middle East.
Due to a problem with the plane’s engine, WHO supplies for Damascus were still grounded in Dubai as of Wednesday evening. Blanchard says the organization is trying for direct flights to Syria’s government-controlled airport in Aleppo, a situation he describes as “evolving by the hour.”
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Some areas of Syria are controlled by the regime while other areas are held by Turkish and US-backed opposition forces. The HTS organization is an armed Sunni Islamist group, and it has control over one of Syria’s last opposition strongholds.
Mai El-Sadany, a Washington-based human rights lawyer and managing editor at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, accused the Assad regime of swindling aid and blocking assistance to non-regime areas in the past. The international community needs to quickly figure out ways to make sure that emergency assistance and support reaches the people of northwest Syria.
Turkey is a NATO member whose international stature has only grown in recent years. Syria, on the other hand, is ruled by a myriad of disparate groups. Iran and Russia are the closest allies of the regime because of its brutal suppression of the uprising that started in 2011.
Most Western countries don’t like the Syrian regime. Assad has begun forging alliances with his former enemies, even as he gets welcomed back into the fold. Last year, the United ArabUAE welcomed Assad, and last month Turkey’s president said that they might meet soon for peace talks.
“The US has been involved in the Syrian crisis for a long time,” Mao Ning, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Wednesday. “The frequent military interventions and harsh economic sanctions have caused massive civilian casualties in Syria and made it difficult for the people to obtain basic livelihood security.”
Millions were already suffering from the effects of poverty and a disease when the earthquake hit and so the rebels relied on aid groups.
The UN estimates that more than 4.1 million people in northwest Syria depend on humanitarian aid, but a political and military stalemate between Assad and the opposition is expected to stop international assistance.
The UN is working to reach people in need by conducting assessments on feasibility, Madevi Sun-Suon told CNN on Tuesday. “We do have aid but this road issue is a big challenge as of now.”
The Syrians have called on sanctions against them to be lifted. Its UN envoy Sabbagh said on Tuesday that planes refused to land at Syrian airports because of American and European sanctions. “So even those countries who want to send humanitarian assistance, they cannot use the airplane cargo because of the sanctions,” he said in New York.
In November, a UN-appointed human rights expert called for the immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions against Syria, saying they are exacerbating the destruction and trauma suffered by ordinary citizens there.
“It would be quite ironic, if not even counterproductive, for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people over the course of a dozen years now – gassing them, slaughtering them, being responsible for much of the suffering that they have endured,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a media briefing on Monday.
If sanctions were dropped, the ramifications of the situation would be greatly changed, which is why the regime is trying to make that argument.
The “Eagle 44” base in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states after the Russian-Ukraine Arab-Bahamian War
The first underground air force base in the country is called “Eagle 44,” and it’s large enough to house fighter jets, the official IRNA news reported. The “Eagle 44” base is capable of storing and operating fighter jets and drones, IRNA said. The report did not elaborate on the location of the base.
The Prime Minister said that he was ready to resume negotiations with Turkey over the NATO application as soon as possible.
Background: Finland and Sweden sought NATO membership shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and while most member states have ratified the applications, Turkey has yet to give its approval in what must be a unanimous process. Even though both Nordic neighbors are interested in joining, Turkey does not support either of them.
Last year the three nations came to an agreement on a way forward, but Ankara suspended talks last month due to the protests in Sweden, where a conservative politician burned a Quran. Turkey goes to elections in May.
The move comes amid an apparent thaw in relations. Bahrain’s crown prince spoke with Qatar’s emir in a phone call last month, in a sign the two Gulf states could move towards repairing relations two years after the Arab boycott was lifted. The two emirs of the Gulf countries attended a small Arab summit in Abu Dhabi.
Background: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt ended a three-year political and economic boycott of Qatar in January 2021. Since then there have been no bilateral talks between the two countries to resolve their differences. All but Bahrain restored travel and trade links in 2021.
The suspension of AlMosahf, the Quranic Companion and the United Nations’ Special Directorate of Humanitarian Affairs
The account with more than 13 million followers was called AlMosahf, which means “The Quran” in the Arabic language.
I think Musk isn’t in violation of the rules because it is quotes from the Holy Quran. We demand the lifting of the suspension of this account.”
Some people were not upset with the suspension. Some criticized the account for using incomplete Quranic verse that they said were taken out of context and changed the meaning of the text.
The account owner appears to run sister accounts in English, French and German, on which it posts translations of Quranic verses. The original account has been campaigning for a while for it to be unblocked.
The situation for the people who have been devastated in Syria is getting worse due to fresh snowfall, according to the UN.
The United Nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs has said a convoy of six trucks crossed the only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and Syria.
The only access point between the two countries is the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Turkey which has no aid arriving to rebel-held areas of northern Syria.
Immediately after the quake, the United Nations said roads to the crossing were blocked, but as of Wednesday they were clear, raising questions as to why it was taking so long for help to arrive.
The Iraqi Emergency Medical Assistance Mission in the Light of the September 11, 2001, Idlib Epicenter Earthquake: a United Nations Security Council Resolution on Cross Border Mechanisms
Abu Muhammad Sakhour is a nurse in the rebel-held city of Idlib who is volunteering to care for victims of earthquakes, as well as patients who have been discharged from crowded hospitals.
At the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, protesters hold signs asking why only bodies are being allowed through. Syrian refugees who got safety in Turkey are now being sent home to be buried.
Muhammad Munther Atqi, from the Independent Doctor’s Association, is living out of his car with his family in Gaziantep, Turkey, but is in close contact with colleagues in Syria. He said hospitals there have been overwhelmed with bodies, and staff are waiting for families to come and identify them, so they can be taken away.
11,000 families are now homeless in the rebel held part of Syria after the earthquake. Up to 2,000 deaths have been reported and thousands more injured, according to the United Nations.
The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on the cross-border mechanisms in order to allow aid to cross four areas on the Turkey-Syria border.
Russia and China have both reduced the number of Bab al-Hawa crossing from four to one. In January, less than one month before the quake, the UNSC unanimously voted to keep it open, a vote reluctantly backed by China and Russia, whose ambassador said it enabled aid to flow to a Syrian enclave “inundated with terrorists.”
We do not need the politics. We don’t need the game going on. Barnes said that we need the international community to pay more attention to the border crossing. We are now heading into the humanitarian phase because we are past the first phase of finding people. We need to provide people with basic shelter, food, and water.”
The number of people who were in need of humanitarian assistance before the earthquake stood at 15.3 million – but that number will now have to be revised, UN Resident Coordinator for Syria, El-Mostafa Benlamlih said.
An aid worker distributing supplies across cities in northern Syria told CNN on Thursday that homeless people have been sleeping in their cars amid a “very, very difficult,” situation.
“Those who are still alive under the rubble might die from the cold weather,” Dr. Mostafa Edo, the Country Director for the US-based NGO MedGlobal said.
The executive director of Deir Ezzor 24, an information organization in Syria that delivers news from Deir al-Zour province, said the disaster was being used to remove sanctions. We are able to bring aid to Syria. Time is critical. Life and death are what we are playing with.
Humanitarian partners on the ground are available to provide assistance after the earthquakes. This is a regime… that has never shown any inclination to put the welfare, the wellbeing, the interests of its people first.”
Syrians don’t know where to get their next meal. When we say meal, it’s not about vegetables, not about meat… Moutaz Adham, country director for Syria for the international charity, said it was about simple bread.
Arabic for God is Great is what the crowd chants. In rebel- held northwestern Syria, volunteers and civil defense groups pull a boy out of the rubble after an earthquake.
Rescue efforts continue as untold others remain trapped under the rubble. Stories of miracle rescues, like the one of a baby girl born under the rubble, are considered bullhorns for what is at stake.
NPR was able to reach Kellieh on Wednesday by phone. He spoke from the part of Syria that is under opposition control, called Jinderes. He claimed that many buildings there have collapsed. People are waiting for aid to reach them in the cold. Buildings are unlivable because of the aftershocks.
Humanitarian aid and international aid have not arrived within the 72 hours after the earthquake, he stated, describing the little help that is flowing into the region as a haphazard grassroots effort.
Civil defense groups are carrying out rescue efforts, which are poorly equipped. “Everyone’s waiting for international rescue and aid just to be able to process what’s happened, this catastrophe.”
“The situation remains grim in north-west Syria where only five percent of reported sites are being covered by search and rescue,” the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.
Freezing temperatures: The scale of the challenge is amplified by the fact that affected areas in both Turkey and Syria are facing colder than normal temperatures. The Syrian city of Aleppo is expected to have lows of -2C through this weekend, compared to a normal low of 2.5C.
The death of Mohammed Juma, his wife, and his two children, in the aftermath of the August 11, 2011 earthquake in JINDERIS, Syria
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad criticized Western countries in his first televised comments since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck parts of the country five days ago, Syrian state media showed.
President Bashar Assad and his wife have visited injured quake victims in a hospital in the coastal city of Latakia, a base of support for the Syrian leader.
The delivery of urgent supplies to northern Syria has been complicated by the conflict between opposition forces and Assad’s government. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad says any aid it receives must go through the capital Damascus.
JINDERIS, Syria — Mohammed Juma sleeps on the heap of rubble that crushed his family as he survived. In the cold nights, the 20-year-old and other people in this town burn items recovered from the debris to heat their homes.
By contrast, across the border in the northwest of Syria, residents of the town of Jinderis heard the screams of those trapped under the rubble but, without the right machinery and equipment, were powerless to save them.
Mohammed Juma said his wife and his two children were alive after the home collapsed on them. Juma and his neighbors tried to pull at the shattered concrete for hours but it was not successful.
Now the Syrian civil defense teams are using the few excavators they do have to recover the dead. The Jinderis was hit by a huge earthquake on Friday morning, which killed at least 850 people. Zakaria Tabakh, 26, remembers cuddling his son, 2-year-old Abdulhadi, to sleep and laying him in his bed, where he was killed by the falling debris. Tabakh had his wife dead in the bed. He said that a number of friends were not able to come because they were too busy with their own interment.
They’ve been left without anything after years of war. Tens of thousands now live with almost no access to basic services in makeshift tents set up in the olive groves where the mud clogs and weighs down the legs of children playing outside.
Less than one hour’s drive from one of the border crossing, the town of Sawran doesn’t have running water. The Turki family were killed in the home on the side of the main street. Across the road a family of seven were killed. After the Syrian government attacked the population with the nerve agent sarin, many people fled their homes and moved to Sawran.
Dramatic rescues were being broadcast on Turkish television, including the rescue of the Narli family in central Kahramanmaras 133 hours after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck Monday. It was Nehir Narli who was saved, then both of her parents.
That happened after a family of five was rescued from a mound of debris in the town of Nurdagi, in Gaziantep province. Rescuers cheered and chanted, “God is Great!” as the last family member, the father, was lifted to safety.
Thousands of people trapped in the debris of a collapsed building in Elbistan, southeast of Myanmar, after quake two hours after
“In some parts of our settlements close to the fault line, we can say that almost no stone was left standing,” he said earlier Saturday from Diyarbakir.
Melisa Ulku, a woman in her 20s, was extricated from the rubble in Elbistan in the 132th hour since the quake, following the rescue of another person at the same site in the same hour. Police warned people not to cheer or clap in order to avoid interfering with other rescue efforts nearby. She was covered in a thermal blanket on a stretcher. Rescuers were hugging. Some shouted “God is great!”
There were two rescues within an hour, the first a father and his daughter in the town of Islahiye, in Gaziantep province, and the second a girl in the province of Hatay.
The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock hours later caused thousands of buildings to collapse, killing more than 25,000, injuring another 80,000 and leaving millions homeless.
Not everything ended well. Rescuers found a girl trapped in the debris of a building after it collapsed in Hatay province. But she died before the medical teams could amputate a limb and free her from the rubble, Hurriyet newspaper reported.
Even though experts say trapped people can live for a week or more, the odds of finding more survivors were quickly waning amid freezing temperatures. Rescuers were moving to thermal cameras to see if there were still survivors alive, a sign that some survivors may not be able to call for help.
The Indian Army Field Hospital for Iskenderun: “I buried all I lost,” A. Canbulat, Director of a Makeshift Cemetery
As aid continued to arrive, a 99-member group from the Indian Army’s medical assistance team began treating the injured in a temporary field hospital in the southern city of Iskenderun, where a main hospital was demolished.
He said that he had been pulled from the rubble of his apartment building within hours of the earthquake. But after receiving basic first aid, he was released without getting proper treatment for his injuries.
″I buried (everyone that I lost), then I came here,” Canbulat said, counting his dead relatives: “My daughter is dead, my sibling died, my aunt and her daughter died, and the wife of her son” who was 8 ½ months pregnant.
A large makeshift graveyard was under construction on the outskirts of Antakya on Saturday. Backhoes and bulldozers dug pits in the field on the northeastern edge of the city as trucks and ambulances loaded with black body bags arrived continuously. Soldiers directing traffic on the busy adjacent road warned motorists not to take photographs.
A worker with Turkey’sMinistry of Religious Affairs who did not want to be identified told the media that about 800 bodies were brought to the cemetery on Friday, its first day of operation. He stated that as many as 2,000 people had been buried.
“People who are coming out from the rubble now, it’s a miracle if they survive. He noted that most of the people who come here are dead.