Global Issues, Solutions and Achievements in 2021

Alper Küçük
Director-General for International Affairs and Migration Services, Turkish Red Crescent

2021 was a challenging year for humanity. While conflicts, climate change, and diseases continue increasing humanitarian needs, the Turkish Red Crescent selflessly directed its efforts to meet those needs in large areas. 

Unfortunately, the future does not seem bright. According to the United Nations Global Humanitarian Overview, the number of individuals in need of humanitarian aid and protection was 235 million in 2021 and 274 million in 2022. Hunger and food insecurity reached an unprecedented extent due to the impacts of the pandemic. There are over 80 million displaced people in the world. Climate change, which affects all geographies, signals a depressive future and a more challenging one for low-income countries.

While the need for humanitarian aid constantly increases, international funds allocated to humanitarian aid do not increase equally, hence resulting in the growing fund deficit in humanitarian aid and actions.

Despite all these difficulties, the Turkish Red Crescent continued its activities on the international level with 17 active delegations from Indonesia, Senegal, Bosna Herzegovina, to Somalia. In 2021, with a 1 million increase compared to last year, the Turkish Red Crescent provided 8.5 million people in need with food, shelter, and non-food assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene, and education.

The Afghanistan crisis was one of the biggest humanitarian crises on the international agenda in 2021. The humanitarian crisis resulting from conflicts and years of instability left nearly 20 million people in need of help. The Turkish Red Crescent has provided humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in cooperation with the Afghanistan Delegation without discriminating, and continues to provide assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in need. It has also met the needs of the migrants who failed to cross the Belarus-Poland-Lithuania border.

We provided assistance to over three million migrants with humanitarian aid in the most critical phase of the pandemic, within the scope of our activities within and outside our borders. We performed multiple actions to contribute to social resilience and the culture of living together in peace by empowering the host community and migrants; improving psychological, social, and economic welfare. We received many awards thanks to our humanitarian efforts despite the difficulties we faced due to the pandemic.  

One of the significant advancements on migration was the “National Assisted Voluntary Return Mechanism,” which was developed as a result of the need of a national mechanism in joint actions of the Presidency of Migration Management, Ministry of Exterior and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA). The Turkish Red Crescent took part in the mechanism as an implementing partner, and signed a cooperation agreement with the Afghanistan and Pakistan Red Crescents.

The biggest cash-based assistance program in terms of the number of benefactors, the scope, and regular and long-term assistance planning, the Social Compliance Program and its intermediary Kızılay Food Card Cash-Based Assistance Model maintained their positions as leaders. Thanks to this model and implementation, the Turkish Red Crescent will host the Global Leadership Forum on Humanitarian Cash in 2022.

Another important step taken by Türkiye and the Turkish Red Crescent in 2021 was holding the 1st Meeting of the Heads of the Organization of Turkic States Red Crescent Societies, which aims to operate to improve mutual cooperation between Red Crescents, conduct joint projects and adopt joint attitudes regarding humanitarian policies, and that the assistance provided to the establishment of the Organization of Turkic States Red Crescents Union declared on the Summit Declaration at the Summit of Heads of States, which was held on November 2021.

There have been significant advancements in the establishment of a logistics center in Istanbul Airport led by the Turkish Red Crescent to ensure quick response to disasters and emergencies occurring outside Türkiye. The Istanbul Logistics Center, which is to be established in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), will be the fourth logistics center in the world affiliated with the Federation, following Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, and Panama, but the first in Europe. The Center will strengthen Türkiye’s position in humanitarian aid, and turn Istanbul into a center of attraction for humanitarian organizations thanks to its advantageous location, logistics capacity, infrastructure, and market opportunities. The Humanitarian Aid Logistics Center will contribute to our global humanitarian actions by improving our national and local disaster response capacity and international operational capabilities.

Another advancement on the international level was that the Turkish Red Crescent was elected as the “vice president” of the “Sphere” organization, which defines global humanitarian aid standards and principles. Consequently, the Turkish Red Crescent will have the opportunity to strengthen its position in the humanitarian sector, and implement and share years of experience on a larger scale. 

A better understanding of the potential and purpose of technological developments contributes to the institutional structure in terms of innovation mentality in humanitarian aid. Therefore, following new trends in the sector gains more importance. Humanitarian aid shareholders have so much to learn from each other and other sectors in risk evaluation and management. Experience sharing is particularly significant in risk evaluation. Creative and innovative approaches of humanitarian aid actors towards risks positively affect the sector’s growth.

Being prepared for crises alleviates the initial shock, reduces human needs, and helps improve resource efficiency. It is now a well-known fact that it is important to be prepared for ongoing and possible crises with the help of experiences in humanitarian aid and empower field workers in humanitarian diplomacy to improve coordination with each other to meet humanitarian needs. For humanitarian aid workers to actively operate across the globe, the devotion of the humanitarian aid system and its advocates should be appreciated. For that reason, working in cooperation with shareholders allows for more activities and access to vulnerable people.

The humanitarian aid system should take firm steps to prioritize equality, engagement, and access to information for victims of disasters and crises. We should put more effort into protecting the most vulnerable in today’s world. By acting on this principle, the Turkish Red Crescent strengthens its position within the system and continues to be a source of hope for people in need in all countries.

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