Istanbul, Turkey, 2 October 2018 – More than a hundred experts from 20 Muslim nations, many of them members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), convened in the city of Istanbul for a two-day workshop which aimed to promote dialogue and build further capacity for enhancing ‘response’ and ‘resilience’ to humanitarian crises in the 57-member nation block.

The event, dubbed: “Enhancing Humanitarian Response and Resilience Through NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)/CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) in OIC Member Countries”, was a joint effort by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) which is the poverty reduction arm of the IsDB, the Turkish Red Crescent (KIZILAY) and the Islamic Relief-UK to underline the important role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in particular and key actors as valuable partners in the humanitarian and development sectors by easing the suffering of the afflicted people in fragile countries.

The speakers at the opening ceremony underlined the important role NOGs and CSOs play in providing immediate response in the face of humanitarian crises. In his key note speech, Dr. Walid Al Wohaib, Director General of ISFD reiterated IsDB Group’s commitment to support the laudable efforts of the international community and OIC Member Countries in addressing emergencies and humanitarian financing, enhancing, the restoration of stability and building resilience thereby giving hope to the children, poor and vulnerable communities affected by manmade and natural disasters. He said: “Business as Usual” cannot address the needs of many children and young people affected by the emergencies. This necessitates having new thinking, new approach and innovation, which are instrumental to tackle this critical global development challenge.”

Another key note speaker at the event was Dr. Kerem Kınık, President of the Turkish Red Crescent who said: “Together with Turkey, several OIC member states have emerged as major humanitarian actors within their particular regions and also globally. Among intergovernmental organizations, the OIC has been one of the fastest-growing humanitarian actor. This has been accomplished through establishing new institutions, adopting new policies, facilitating dialogue and, when required, financing and implementing humanitarian programs on the ground.”

His Excellency Ambassador Musa Kulaklıkaya, Director General of SESRIC, concluded the opening session of the event by stating: “Unfortunately, many of the ongoing conflicts around the world are taking place in the OIC geography. In 2017, above 50 percent of world’s wars and limited wars as well as 38 percent of violent crises took place in the OIC Member States. The OIC region has become less peaceful over the last 10 years, mostly due to conflicts in our region. Today the OIC Member States account for 61.5 percent of all displaced population in the world. Furthermore, 89 million people or 71 percent of people who globally need humanitarian assistance, reside in the OIC Member Countries. Civil society organizations may assist governments in addressing resettling refugees and re-establishing basic human services.”

The two-day workshop in Istanbul (2-3 October 2018) later saw several panel discussions which aimed at sharing best practices and lessons learnt to devise innovative ways and means to better prepare NGOs and CSOs in conflict afflicted countries and fragile situations. The discussions also included practical recommendations and policy advice to increase humanitarian and development financing as well as shedding light on challenges and opportunities for effective humanitarian and resilience responses in a bid to develop more responsive mechanisms.

Regarding the humanitarian issue, estimates by some major development institutions of the world indicate that the number of people living under fragile and conflict afflicted circumstances is expected to rise even further by 2030 with poverty, inequality, and lack of access to basic services as major development challenges that exacerbate the destructive impacts of disasters and conflicts in several parts of the world.