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Worst when it comes?

Emergency assistance will save lives and alleviate emergency emergencies. We will be in place when the need is greatest. Nevertheless, the humanitarian sector fails time and time again when it comes to the most. Why is it like that?

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

Although the humanitarian sector has grown larger and more professional, MSF has for several years seen that the response capacity in the acute phase of a crisis – especially in war and conflict – is weak. There are too few organizations present, aid often arrives too late, it does not reach those who need it most, and the most critical needs – health care, food, water and shelter – are not covered well enough.

Emergency relief in unpredictable conflict situations is very difficult. It is dangerous, unclear and expensive. Contrasting parties often refuse access to humanitarian actors or attempt to control where and when assistance is to be delivered. War situations are inherently extremely politicized, and delivering independent, neutral and impartial relief requires a strong humanitarian drive.

Money alone does not solve the external or internal problems facing the sector.

Perverse competition. This leverage is not maximized, as the sector is organized today. Coordination, planning and financing are structured in a relatively rigid UN-led system. The UN provides project funding to an international organization, which in turn often uses a local organization to implement the project. All in all, this becomes part of a long process. And while it is being searched, approved and ordered, the clock is ticking.

In several cases – we have seen it in Nigeria and Niger, among other places – the effect of the way the financing is done has also been perverse. The organizations compete for funding and visibility, and thus also for "control" over the areas you have access to. The result is a first-come, first-served logic – organizations plant their own flag and refuse to let others in, even if they are unable to meet their needs.

Money no guarantee. All in all, this undermines the humanitarian power of action. As the system is structured today, it is unrealistic to believe that it can become more actionable and more independent.

Norway has long been one of the UN's best friends, and in recent years has increased its grants for emergency aid in war-torn countries. Norway has an ambition to contribute when the need is greatest. Granting more money through the existing system is, however, no guarantee of a faster and better response. Money alone does not solve the external or internal problems facing the sector.

In order to ensure good response in this regard, emergency relief must be released from the political objectives.

If we are to improve the crisis response in conflict areas, we must strengthen the humanitarian organizations' ability to do their main task. To ensure a good response when it comes to, emergency aid must be freed from the political objectives of peace and long-term development. To prevent destructive competition, the funding model must be changed and organizations must be given the opportunity to build their own, flexible contingency plan.

A good friend says. Norway should consider how the UN and other donor countries can create a greater space for organizations with the ability and willingness to respond to them in acute, conflict-related crises. A good friend clearly states when something isn't working well enough. One can hope that it is the number of lives saved that will give Norway international recognition as a "humanitarian superpower", not how much money is given to a system that has repeatedly failed when it mattered most.

Thorson is a humanitarian advisor in MSF.

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