The world is facing a new normal of unprecedented challenges. More people are forcibly displaced now than at any time since 1945, with more than 59 million internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people. With people in poverty increasingly concentrated in fragile states, more effective and efficient ways must be found to resolve the underlying causes of those crises. Otherwise, wider ambitions for global development and poverty reduction will fail. In this paper it is argued that the existing aid architecture is not designed to tackle the underlying problems of 21st-century fragile states.
These case studies have been chosen to illustrate a spectrum of the fragile contexts in which Mercy Corps works, each raising different questions for the international humanitarian and development sector: a hot conflict in Syria, a refugee crisis in Lebanon, a protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, development amid vulnerability in Uganda and the key sector of financial services. In each case study Mercy Corps makes specific recommendations before drawing on all of them to propose recommendations for how the broader humanitarian system should be reformed to improve humanitarian and developmental interventions in these conflict-affected and fragile states.
Based on its decades of experience working in these contexts, Mercy Corps calls for a sea change in how the international community engages in these most challenging environments —moving away from short-term humanitarian response in all but the most acute crises and where appropriate reducing or refocusing the role of the UN.