World Humanitarian Summit Kicks Off

The first ever World Humanitarian Summit convenes in Istanbul on May 23 and 24. This is a very big deal for the global humanitarian community, and possibly humanity. Government officials, NGO leaders and the private sector are coming together for wide ranging, action oriented meetings to create strategies to more comprehensively prevent the outbreak of conflict, end protracted conflicts, and improve the humanitarian relief efforts when crises arise.

You can follow all the action via the live stream: 

The hashtag is #ShareHumanity

This 20 minute Global Dispatches Podcast episode offers a good primer on the big political debates and expected outcomes from the conference. 

This UN Dispatch post is a good, succinct preview of the summit.

World Health Assembly begins in Geneva…The WHO’s annual gathering commences on Monday. “The Zika virus is only one part of the agenda at the upcoming 69th World Health Assembly, which Chan described as “record-breaking” for the number of agenda items and resolutions member states will need to discuss and agree on at the May 23-28 event, from the operational plan to implement the Global Strategy on Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ health, draft global strategy on health workforce, to discussions on access to essential medicines worldwide. There is however another theme emerging from the annual event: internal reforms and initiatives taking place at WHO that will also be on the assembly’s agenda.” (Devex

Quote of the day: “This is not the time to cut resources. Everybody is facing financial trade-offs, but the world has got to ante up at a much higher level than is the case right now…The humanitarian system is both stressed and stretched to the limits…by the number and complexity of crises. It has been a relentless drumbeat of very large, most often complex crises, the majority of which are chronic,”  — USAID chief Gayle Smith ahead of the WHS. (Reuters


Military offensives mounted by a regional taskforce and Nigerian and Cameroonian troops have pushed Boko Haram further back into the northeast corner of Nigeria, prompting the militants to scatter and ramp up attacks across the border in Niger, making life worse for people in the country. (Reuters

Up to 50 million people in Africa will need food by Christmas as a crisis across the continent triggered by El Niño worsens, the UN and major international charities have warned. (Guardian

Burkina Faso held local elections Sunday seen as a key step in the country’s transition to democracy from the authoritarian rule of ousted strongman Blaise Compaore. (Yahoo

Tanzania opened peace talks over the weekend in a bid to end a political crisis in Burundi, but some opponents said the absence of several leading opposition groups made it more like a “monologue” by the government, undermining the process. (Reuters

Former militants in Nigeria’s oil-producing south said Sunday they would not resume violence and distanced themselves from a new rebel group that has claimed recent attacks on pipelines and facilities. (AFP


The Yemeni government delegation is to rejoin UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait with Shiite rebels who control the capital, ending a four-day boycott, the UN special envoy said on Sunday. (AFP

The top U.S. commander for the Middle East made a secret visit to Syria on Saturday to look at cooperative efforts among Arab, Kurdish and other forces to overcome Islamic State militants. (VOA

U.N. second-in-command Jan Eliasson said on Sunday it was necessary to stand up for international humanitarian law which was being disregarded, citing attacks on hospitals and “practically medieval” sieges on civilians in Syria and Yemen. (Reuters

An Israeli NGO which tracks alleged army abuses of Palestinians told a court Sunday that it could no longer function if the government forced it to name its anonymous informants. (AFP

A monitoring group has said that at least 60,000 people have died in Syrian government jails during the five-year conflict. (Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Myanmar’s new civilian-led government to complete the Southeast Asian nation’s transition to democracy by implementing further reforms to enshrine free markets, development and human rights. (AP


The death toll in the eruption of a volcano in western Indonesia rose to seven on Sunday, with two other people in critical condition, as an official warned of more eruptions. (AP

Hundreds of protesters on Sunday marked the second anniversary of Thailand’s latest coup with song, dance, speeches and pro-democracy banners, in the largest show of dissent since the military toppled an elected government. (Yahoo

U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Vietnam late Sunday ahead of a three-day trip aimed at sealing the transformation of an old enemy into a new partner to help counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region. (Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived Sunday in Iran in hopes of growing energy and development ties to the country as it emerges from its decades-long diplomatic isolation. (VOA

Cyclone Roanu battered the coast of southern Bangladesh on Saturday, forcing half a million people to flee their homes and leaving 23 people dead in floods and rain-triggered landslides. (AFP

Some 500 people on Sunday protested what they say is a lack of university student placements in their central China province, in the latest protest over education reform. (AP

Foreign aid began arriving in Sri Lanka Saturday, bringing help to half a million people forced out of their homes by rains and landslides that have killed at least 71 in a week of extreme weather wreaking havoc in South Asia. (AFP

The Americas

Violent protests have broken out in Chile during the state-of-the-nation address by President Michelle Bachelet. Demonstrators set up barricades and hurled firebombs in Valparaiso, where Chile’s Congress meets. Police fired tear gas and water cannon. (BBC

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil’s two biggest cities Sunday to protest acting President Michel Temer, trying to keep up pressure on his interim administration only 10 days after he was sworn in.. (AP

Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Bolivian President Evo Morales discussed “imperialist efforts” to undo leftist progress in Latin America during Morales’ two-day visit to the Communist-ruled island, Cuban state television reported on Saturday. (Reuters

…and the rest

The World Bank Group today launched the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, an innovative, fast-disbursing global financing mechanism designed to protect the world against deadly pandemics, which will create the first-ever insurance market for pandemic risk. Japan, which holds the G7 Presidency, committed the first $50 million in funding toward the new initiative. (World Bank

Events of Note

If you have an event you’d like to share, let us know

Global Health R&D: What’s at stake during the 69th WHA?…Join the Global Health Technologies Coalition and Geneva Centre for Security Policy for a May 25 WHA side-event/webinar examining key issues in global health R&D at this year’s World Health Assembly, including ensuring sustainable R&D to support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, tackling antimicrobial resistance, responding to emerging infectious diseases, and how the current WHO and United Nations Secretary-General processes are likely to impact R&D and innovation models.

Achieving Nutrition Security: A call for leadership, partnership, and investment...Akinwumi Adesina, Kofi Annan and John Kufuor highlight  the economic case for nutrition and outlined a vision for the new African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN)—which aims to bring together leaders from across the continent to champion and increase investment in nutrition—at the African Development Bank Annual Meeting.

Istanbul and Beyond…The World Humanitarian Summit comes to DC, via the United Nations Foundation. A readout of the Summit from experts in Washington. Monday, 12 pm EST. Livestream here.


The humanitarian system: ‘A mammoth machinery losing track of what it is for’ (Guardian

Rwanda Provides Lessons On How to Narrow Energy Deficit (The Conversation

Return of Chibok Schoolgirl Renews Hope (Human Rights Watch

Sexual health gets little attention in a crisis, with devastating results (Guardian

Is Tanzania Ousting Kenya As Region’s Powerhouse? (DW

How Black Bin Bags and Common Sense Helped End Ebola (African Arguments

Humanitarian Summit Must Address Weapons Shipments Too (IPS

Could Angola have prevented its yellow fever epidemic? (Africa is a Country

GDP is rising: Why increase economic growth if you can manipulate the GDP? (Osmosis

How do we create a humanitarian system fit for today – and tomorrow? (WEF

The World Humanitarian Summit: Decoded (IRIN