Syria crisis highlights overwhelmed humanitarian system

Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria

September 21, 2015

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  • Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

The current refugee crisis in Europe is a symptom of ongoing violent conflict and complex crises worldwide and exposes the massive unmet humanitarian needs and deep flaws in today’s system of global governance, development and aid.

The hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Africa arriving in Europe, are just some of the 59.5 million people around the world who’ve been forcibly displaced from their homes. This is the highest number since World War II. Most of these refugees are fleeing conflict or the fallout from violence.

In our latest report: Cracking the Code: Enhancing Emergency Response & Resilience in Complex Crises, Mercy Corps urges policy makers to address the underlying reasons behind these historic numbers: corruption, a lack of economic growth, and unaddressed grievances. Until these problems are addressed, the refugee crisis will continue to grow.

Mercy Corps illustrates how the existing system is both overstretched and underfunded and is therefore unsustainable. We make the case that there is an urgent need to retrofit the system and create one that is more cost-effective, less bureaucratic and more nimble.

Several global meetings over the next year – starting with the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month and culminating in the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 – provide this opportunity. We must make the most of these opportunities to examine and change how the international community responds to crises.

Mercy Corps believes it is critical that discussions about funding, delivering and receiving aid are as honest, innovative and farsighted as possible.

In our report we make three main recommendations to policy makers:

1. Adopt a more decentralized, diverse approach to conflict and fragile states.
2. Focus on tackling the root causes of crises.
3. Ensure approaches to fragile states are both long term and flexible.

Based on our deep experience operating in conflict-affected countries and fragile states around the world, Mercy Corps hopes to stimulate further discussion about such topics as: meeting the needs of people in conflict; addressing the underlying causes of conflict and fragility; tackling long-term protracted crises; and enabling market-based, economic development after a natural disaster as well as in conflict-affected and fragile states.

How you can help

  • Donate today. Every single contribution helps us provide even more food, water, shelter and support to Syrian refugees and families in crisis around the world.
  • Tell your friends. Share this story or go to our Facebook page and spread the word about the millions who need us.
  • Start a campaign. You can turn knowledge into action by setting up a personal fundraising page and asking your friends and family to contribute to our efforts to help Syrians fleeing the war.
  • Stay informed. Read more stories about our work and those we are helping on our Syria crisis response page. You can also learn more about our focus on protecting Syria’s children.