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Local actors are key to addressing growing humanitarian needs


Jointly organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Commission, the third edition of the European Humanitarian Forum (EHF) on 18-19 March focused on the unprecedented levels of humanitarian needs in the current context of forgotten crises and fragile humanitarian environments. Through panel discussions, humanitarian talks and exhibitions, participants explored ways to reduce vulnerabilities, mobilise more resources and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian response.

The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Jagan Chapagain, participated in a high-level panel to discuss the critical issue of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian supply chain. From 60 to 80% of emergency costs stem from supply chain - which applies before, during and after disasters strike. During his intervention, the Secretary General stressed the need for a paradigm shift to focus on preparedness and addressing fragility, so that potential crises don't necessarily become disasters. He also underlined the importance of much greater investment in local supply chains. This is key to ensuring fast responses that reach the last mile. 

Jagan Chapagain participated in a high-level panel to discuss the critical issue of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian supply chain. © European Humanitarian Forum 2024

During a panel on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the Vice-President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Marwan Jilani provided his perspective from the ground. He highlighted the dedication and tireless work of the local volunteers, staff and professionals who continue to save lives every day, while being heavily affected by the catastrophic situation themselves. “Local heroes haven’t had a break. Despite the risk they face and despite themselves and their families being affected. Their dedication to serve their people is unbroken,” Mr Jilani said.

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine international armed conflict,  the health system in Ukraine is under growing pressure. Maksym Dotsenko, Director General of the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, also  emphasised the key role that local actors are playing in emergency response, recovery, and development efforts. “Substantial needs persist in Ukraine. It is crucial to enhance access to primary healthcare, expand home-based care and increase physical and mental rehabilitation services. Local actors are fundamental to respond to these needs,” said Mr Dotsenko. Local actors must be enabled to collaborate with the national health system to tackle its challenges. “This approach not only upholds the principles of human dignity, health, and life but also cultivates community resilience and stimulates economic growth”, he added.

Representatives from European National Red Cross Societies engaged in various bilateral and side discussions, contributing to exchanges between different stakeholders on the most pressing humanitarian challenges. A photo exhibition showcased the work being carried out by the IFRC and the European Commission in context of their Programmatic Partnership – a global programme working with local communities in 24 countries to reduce their risks and better prepare for disasters and health emergencies.  

IFRC and the European Commission Programmatic Partnership photo exhibition. © European Humanitarian Forum 2024

The Co-Hosts Statement by the European Commission and the Belgian EU Presidency gathered the forum’s key recommendations and calls for action. Overall, the forum focussed on the urgent need to strengthen the link between humanitarian assistance and other areas of international cooperation, such as sustainable development, peace-building and civil protection to help bridge the funding gap by reinforcing complementarity, including through increased collaboration with the private sector. It was flagged that while solutions to overcome reduced funding opportunities is needed more than ever before, the humanitarian principles should never be put at risk. In an increasingly challenging and highly politised environment, a collective commitment to needs-based and principled humanitarian response is needed at all levels.

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyón on: or +32 2 235 09 22

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