Increasing Humanitarian Crises and Approaches in 2022: How Just and Sustainable is the Humanitarian System?

Alper Küçük
Turkish Red Crescent, Director General of the International Affairs and Migration Services

We entered 2022 with the hope of leaving COVID-19 behind. Partially, we managed to overcome the acute phase. However, the global humanitarian crises and the number of people in need of humanitarian aid continued to increase.

The conflicts between Russia and Ukraine resulted in 14 million people seeking asylum in relatively safe areas within the country and many other countries, including Türkiye. The conflicts placed high on the global agenda as the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since WWII. This crisis not only affected the country and the region but also led to a global food and energy crisis. In addition to the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) and Türkiye’s public and civil aid actors carrying out an effective and rapid humanitarian response in the field, Türkiye took a neutral position during the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and created the Black Sea Grain Corridor, which resulted in a historic success in humanitarian diplomacy that helped minimize the impacts of the global food crisis and allowed millions of people to access food.

The climate crisis, one of the most prominent issues in the world, caused a record level of natural disasters in 2022. These recurring and increasing natural disasters continued to cause loss of life and property, displace people, and interrupt their access to livelihoods. We have been reminded that the climate crisis does not have just one impact, but more generally, it is the biggest threat to the resources to sustain life. Regardless, we also continued to witness that the countries that were the least responsible for the climate crisis were the ones that suffered the most from its consequences. Severe floods in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria, and drought, especially in the Horn of Africa, continued to trigger severe hunger crises and forced migrations.

The Ukraine crisis has revealed an injustice in the approaches toward migrants seeking someplace safe due to humanitarian crises. The fact and dilemma have come to hand that the world’s extraordinary solidarity and support for the Ukraine crisis has not been the case for other crises. Global support for the Ukraine crisis is necessary and appreciated by all means. However, all of this has revealed that humanitarians have chosen a crisis over others. In fact, armed conflicts, climate-related disasters, and chronic crises in various regions, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Congo, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Niger, and many more, are at risk of being entirely or partially forgotten. 

Humanitarian organizations have become the main actors in critical processes as a result of the chaotic environment of the world. The Turkish Red Crescent, whose primary purpose is to protect the most vulnerable people without discriminating, continues to bring hope to those in need in different regions.

Extending Türkiye’s helping hand to 11 million people in 46 countries with the support of its donors, TRC ranked first globally among the national organizations within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in delivering aid to countries and people in need in 2022 thanks to the preparedness of its national and international capacity and its effective and rapid response to crises. 

At least 339 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2023, which means a 23% increase compared to 2022. The needs are increasing, but funding is not keeping up. On the contrary, the widening gap between the required and the available resources leaves humanitarian actors no choice but to manage with fewer resources in the face of crisis upon crisis each year. 

“The international community should allocate more resources to humanitarian aid” is not a new statement. We can all agree that the resources are inadequate to prepare societies for crises and increase resilience; humanitarian financing is mostly allocated to post-crisis response, and if more resources were dedicated to preparedness, there would not be a need for such a resource for response. Crisis-based financing ties many humanitarian actors into knots in terms of sustainability.

To solve this issue, humanitarian actors focus on sustainable financing. They pattern themselves after TRC regarding funding it secures thanks to its innovative and powerful income-generating tools and the business models it develops. TRC Investment offers solution partnerships to the international humanitarian aid system with national and international business models in areas such as shelter, food, logistics, and health. TRC Investment contributes greatly to the sustainability of TRC’s humanitarian action by financing it through all its profits. 

While preserving its leading role in providing aid in global humanitarian crises, TRC prepares itself and humanitarian actors for increasingly challenging humanitarian conditions by implementing exemplary programs, creating business models, and developing international collaborations that create added value.

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