Governments, aid organizations and U.N. agencies are meeting in Istanbul this week to develop a better response to what has been called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two, as conflicts and natural disasters have left some 130 million people in need of aid.
On Monday, celebrities who work on humanitarian issues set out their concerns and hopes for the two-day U.N. summit:
FOREST WHITAKER, U.S. ACTOR AND FILMMAKER
“Around the world 250,000 boys and girls are serving as soldiers. Millions more are living in communities crippled by poverty and violence.
Too often these youths are troubling statistics in need of a solution. I see them differently. Among these millions of young women and men I see artists and doctors, presidents, prime ministers. I see the next Mother Teresa, the next Nelson Mandela.
Inside each of these youths is a precious seed working to transform itself into something extraordinary. We have to water these seeds and ensure that every child everywhere can receive a quality education. We have to ensure every youth everywhere has a real economic opportunity to succeed.
These are not luxuries reserved only for the privileged few. These are necessities that every individual in every community requires to survive and to thrive. If we do all of these things, if we nurture and support these seeds, they will grow into the next generation of thinkers, leaders, doers.
They will transform our world. Deserts will become forests, swamps will become gardens, war will become peace, and the youth of today will build a world they will be proud to pass on to their children.”
ASHLEY JUDD, U.S. ACTRESS
“Gender inequality is the defining norm of our time. Gender inequality is the defining crisis of our time. Ten thousand of us have gathered here at the World Humanitarian Summit, and the world is watching because we know that the way we respond to crisis is itself a crisis. So what are we going to do differently?
… The intersection of gender inequality and climate change powerfully dramatizes the perils of being female in our unequal world…
Seventy-five percent of those affected by disaster are in fact girls and women. Think Nepal with the grotesque spike in sex trafficking after the earthquake in 2015. During Super Typhoon Yolanda, UNFPA reports 900 women a day gave birth in so-called makeshift clinics without so much as a skilled birth attendant present.
And girls who are the poorest and the most encumbered among us after a disaster are 2.5 times more likely to miss school than our brothers. Yet 0.01 percent of all money spent on climate change has a gender focus.”
DANIEL CRAIG, BRITISH ACTOR & U.N. GLOBAL ADVOCATE FOR THE ELIMINATION OF MINES AND EXPLOSIVE HAZARDS
“Ten to 15 percent of what is fired in a conflict does not explode. U.N. flags, a Red Cross or a Red Crescent emblem is now a target and no longer protection. In today’s conflicts weapons are no longer indiscriminate. They are used to target civilians, residential areas, refugee camps and health facilities, roads, farmland, collapsed buildings, schools, key infrastructure, nothing is spared.
UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service) estimates it may take 40 to 50 years to clean up Syria. Until roads are cleared, for just one food air drop you will continue to pay up to 15 times the price of a 20-truck convoy delivery. Without risk education and clearance work, protection work won’t be efficient. The return of displaced people and refugees will continue to be bloody.
But death from mines, explosive hazards, IEDs is not an incurable disease. The solution lies in your hands. I want you to integrate mine action into your humanitarian agenda and your budget, and support the work that UNMAS leads.”