From Local to International Humanitarian Aid

Ahmet Emin Dağ
Dr., IHH Executive Board Member

Forest fires in the Mediterranean Region and floods in Western Karadeniz Caused severe human suffering on a national scale in 2021.  The successful management of disasters by public institutions and civil society playing an active part in these activities made us hopeful in terms of the role of NGOs and especially aid organizations. In this sense, IHH participated in fighting the simultaneous fires that broke out during the summer in Antalya, Muğla, Aydın, Denizli, Adana, Isparta, Kayseri, Hatay, Uşak, and Karabük with 37 different teams consisting of 430 people. Moreover, IHH delivered hot meals through mobile soup kitchens. In addition, their psychosocial support teams made visits to the families of victims.  

It is ironic that while one half of the country was dealing with forest fires, the other was facing huge flood disasters in the province of Western Karadeniz such as Bartın, Kastamonu, and Sinop. IHH sent 35 coordination officers, 30 divers, 195 evacuation workers and search and rescue teams, a mobile soup kitchen, and 55 vehicle rescuers to the disaster areas where many people lost their lives and thousands of others suffered.

After these relief works, catering supplies for 20 thousand people, hot meals for 6,400 people, and 8 trucks full of drinkable water were distributed. Such disasters have once again confirmed that natural disasters caused by climate change should be the main areas the government and non-governmental organizations need to pay attention to. In this respect, more professional and excessive preparation is important against forest fires and unbalanced heavy rain that causes other disasters. 

However, climate change, which affects the whole globe, cannot be managed with the measures taken by some local officials and civil agents. This necessitates new cooperation areas on a global scale. In that matter, there is an increase in natural events triggered by climate change which has made us rethink the importance of international solidarity as well as local opportunities. 

Our involvement in Türkiye as well as the different crisis areas around the world has inspired us, as IHH, to attach more importance to international solidarity among civil aid organizations. During this year’s OCHA Parnetship Week, ICVA sessions on decentralization and more extensive cooperation were held by IHH to produce solutions to local problems in the sense of global experiences and to work together from the  local to the international arena. Topics such as how international aid organizations in non-European countries deliver aid to crisis areas, how they interact with local communities, and methods of developing relations with international humanitarian aid factors constitute areas on which a strategy must be developed in the new period.

IHH, a member of ICVA since 2018, continues to aim to be a member of important platforms to strengthen humanitarian principles and increase cooperation with international non-governmental organizations. In this context, it is continuing to express its ideas on every local and international platform on key problems such as civic space and local leadership, capacity development, financing, participation in international partnerships, advocacy, and visibility. In this way, one of these platforms, the AidEX 2021 event, has been an important meeting spot for international civil aid organizations. As IHH, our pavilion at this event has turned into an opportunity, for we not only gained attention for international players but also helped to find new areas of cooperation.

As IHH, our mission of being an organization reaching out from local to global, both in the last year and in the upcoming period.  We are excited about new expansions that will carry us forward. Turning this excitement into concrete projects, the contribution international aid organizations have on the mission of promoting core humanitarian standards as well as helping to ease the lives of victims will play an influential role in the circulation of global humanitarian funds.

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