We are at a Crossroad in the Face of Increasing Global Crises

Serkan Kayalar
President, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA)

It would not be wrong to say that humanity entered the new century quite uneasy after witnessing tragic wars in the twentieth century. At the beginning of the millennium, many concepts such as global governance, the ideal of international society, and global sustainable development were put forward with great hopes for the sake of solving humanity’s problems. However, today, constantly increasing humanitarian crises manifest themselves in different forms across the world. The spillover effect of humanitarian crises went beyond its scope, and they started causing various social, psychological, political, and economic crises mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to a period in which the current national and international welfare gains are in danger. For example, drought and famine anywhere can turn into a national conflict, terrorism, a regional migration crisis, and a global food security problem. Therefore, it might be stated that the humanitarian crises experienced today have resulted in a global system crisis.

While humanitarian crises have become multi-dimensional and more complex, responses to crises tend to continue in the traditional way. Although many programs, especially followed by international organizations, seem to have a perfect design on paper, they have critical inadequacies in terms of effectiveness and durable solutions in practice. For example, when there is a humanitarian crisis, the funding remains inadequate in global aid calls made after long meetings, and at times, it can be too late until the promised funds are delivered to the places in need. Therefore, an inefficient cycle becomes the case, and the problems continue to get deeper by re-running similar processes for new crises. In this context, the President of Türkiye’s statement highlighting that “The United Nations must be restructured!” can be considered a practical approach that prioritizes humanitarian goals rather than political goals.

The world’s overall humanitarian state does not look that pleasant in 2021. It can be seen that absolute poverty around the world, which was on the decrease for the last 20 years, has started to increase. It is also known that hunger and food insecurity have reached critical levels. Accordingly, it is estimated that the number of people who will need humanitarian aid will increase and reach 274 million in 2022. Regarding humanitarian aid, not only the needs but the complexity of issues is increasing, and the time limit for events decrease. According to the ILO Social Protection Report (2021), the gap between high-income and low-income countries has widened, and the uncertainties around the fight against the pandemic have made it difficult for people to access social protection and basic needs.

The global humanitarian crises mentioned above can only be solved if we change the way we operate. Within the scope of its enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy, Türkiye aims to promote a different approach with its global humanitarian aid and development cooperation activities. In cooperation with all its institutions and organizations, Türkiye’s humanitarian aid activities continued in 2021 in many countries such as Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Bangladesh, and Iraq.

As the official technical cooperation agency of Türkiye, TİKA carried out various humanitarian aid projects along with development projects in 2021. It conducted fast and concrete projects aiming to meet the humanitarian needs of the people affected by flood disasters in Yemen and Albania, earthquakes in Haiti and Croatia, and crises in Afghanistan and Ethiopia. TİKA also provided shelter to refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, dished out for refugees affected by the fire that broke out in March in the camps, and conducted projects encouraging people who were displaced due to terrorism in Nigeria to return to their villages. It delivered food packages to nearly 1 million people in 82 countries from the Balkans, Middle Asia, and Africa to America within the scope of the 2021 Year of Yunus Emre and Turkish Language. It implemented capacity-building programs for countries to use sustainable methods in combating the pandemic and enabled them to produce the products needed with their own experiences through medical production centers established in many countries.

In short, the purpose of TİKA in all these projects is not to go into a vicious circle in humanitarian aid, to promote temporary solutions at the time of a crisis with permanent development projects after the crisis, and to develop projects that increase resilience by improving local capacities against natural and man-made crises. As TİKA we act sincerely and quickly, and we try to take action with projects creating “country-specific” solutions as we believe that actions speak louder than words.

Crises will always exist. The important thing is to act with an understanding that prioritizes “human” and environmentally friendly sustainable development by reducing the impact of these crises on humanity. TIKA will continue to help the regions in need of help in accordance with the active and principled foreign policy pursued by Türkiye, and its human-centered development approach. 

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