The global humanitarian system is stretched to its limits. The world faces the greatest flood of refugees since World War II, and the United Nations is handling an unprecedented number of simultaneous crises. On June 2, the U.S. Institute of Peace and Oxfam America hosted discussion on how, in the aftermath of the May 23-24 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, to strengthen the humanitarian system and increase the ability of constructive national leaders and civil society organizations to avoid cycles of crisis, conflict and violence.

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Pictured left to right, Kim Ghattas, Ray Offenheiser, Anwar Khan, Thomas Staal

For 2014, the U.N. appealed for assistance to help 81 million people, including displaced people and others affected by protracted conflicts and disasters from natural hazards. In 2015, the U.N. Secretary-General noted that handling 10 major humanitarian crises at the same time “was rare and unprecedented in the 70-year history of the United Nations.” Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, thereby contributing to further humanitarian crises with impacts disproportionately felt by the world’s most vulnerable. The gap between the needs and the humanitarian system’s ability to respond is growing, and the inability to recover locks the world’s poor and vulnerable in a vicious cycle of crisis, conflict and violence. 

This forum sought to reflect on the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul and identify the necessary next steps. Panelists offered recommendations for issues to be discussed at the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants and the Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, initiated by President Obama, on the margins of UNGA in September. Continue the conversation on Twitter with #ReShapeAid.


Ms. Nancy Lindborg
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Mr. Thomas Staal
Acting Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA), USAID

Mr. Anwar Khan 
CEO, Islamic Relief USA

Kim Ghattas
Journalist, BBC

Ms. Anne C. Richard
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, U.S. Department of State

Mr. Fadi Hallisso
CEO and Co-Founder, Basmeh and Zeitooneh

Ms. Elizabeth Ferris
Senior Adviser to the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants
Research Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service

Howard LaFranchi
Journalist, Christian Science Monitor

Ray Offenheiser
President, Oxfam America

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