• ‘Disappointed’ Ban urges more aid commitment from world leaders

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    ISTANBUL: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said he was disappointed most top world leaders had stayed away from the first humanitarian summit in Istanbul, saying concrete political action was now needed.

    The two-day World Humanitarian Summit wound up with announcements of a new children’s fund seeking almost $4 billion (3.6 billion euros) to help educate the young in conflict and a “Grand Bargain” to streamline work between donors and aid groups.

    Participants also acknowledged a need to focus on development and prevention to stop conflicts and disasters happening in the first place.

    But despite the presence of celebrities like Daniel Craig and Sean Penn, the event was marred by the absence of top world leaders other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel and host Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    “The call was heard and heeded. We can be proud of what we have achieved,” Ban said at a closing news conference with Erdogan.

    “It is a bit disappointing some world leaders could not be here, especially those from G7 countries,” he said. “They are some of the most generous donors but I urge greater engagement in search for a political solution.”

    Erdogan was more scathing, saying “we are failing to see humanitarian issues that are right next door.”

    Ban meanwhile criticized the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, whose body had repeatedly blocked key humanitarian resolutions and none of whose leaders were present at the summit.

    Their absence from Istanbul “does not provide an excuse for inaction unique responsibility to promote peace and stability.”

    Top aid organisations present at the summit meanwhile said more needed to be done to address the problems with the humanitarian system.

    “We need to be more focused on the people who we are not reaching,” Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told reporters.

    He said the fact that civilians were stranded without aid inside jihadist-controlled Fallujah as Iraqi forces try to retake the city was an example of how “protection is failing.” AFP

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