Humanitarian Aid: Crises, Trends, Challenges

European Parliament Policy Department


As the humanitarian community prepares for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2016, the backdrop is far from easy. The scale of natural and man-made disasters is daunting, vulnerability and fragility are increasing, funding shortfalls become constant, operating environments grow increasingly problematic, and the humanitarian system itself remains highly complex despite multiple waves of reform. Although humanitarian action has become more effective over the years, actors must continue to search for ways to better prevent and prepare for disasters, and to respond in a manner that is more flexible and better adapted to new realities and the needs of afflicted populations while alleviating suffering, maintaining dignity and saving lives - the ultimate objective of humanitarian work. 

The EU has been a key player in international humanitarian policy. It has substantial clout in shaping future humanitarian action on a wide range of issues. These include principled and needs-based action, enhanced disaster preparedness and management, resilience-building, parnerships with non-traditional actors and emerging donors, innovative approaches and greater effectiveness and accountability, for both EU and international efforts. The European Parliament has several options to participate actively in these discussions and play a formative role in shaping humanitarian outcomes.