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Minister of Foreign Affairs at World Humanitarian Day: international humanitarian aid system facing great challenges


Today, on World Humanitarian Day, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand underlined the matter of the international humanitarian aid system facing a considerable challenge. “The need for humanitarian aid is growing continuously. The nature of disasters has changed. Humanitarian aid no longer only means an urgent, short-term response; most crises last for a number of years and are recurrent. At the same time, with man-made crises, it is important to find a political solution as additional funding as a sole tool will not stop humanitarian catastrophes,” she added.

Humanitarian crises have far-reaching consequences. As of today, natural disasters and man-made crises have forced more than 60 million people to leave their homes. The average time spent in a foreign state as a refugee is as long as 17 years.

Kaljurand says that next to disaster response, crisis prevention is gaining in significance as well as improvement of the resistance capacity of states and a smooth transition from humanitarian aid to development cooperation. “Rebuilding a country after a disaster is a great challenge requiring development measures next to immediate emergency aid. The two cannot be viewed as two separate processes.”

Estonian humanitarian aid to other nations, provided with the objective of saving lives and helping victims of natural and man-made disasters alike, has increased year by year. In 2011 – 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated 7.8 million euros of its budgetary means to humanitarian aid. Central aid receivers include the most vulnerable social groups and long-term crises next to acute emergencies. In 2015, Estonia has provided humanitarian aid to crises hot spots in Ukraine, supported Syrian refugees in Jordan and Iraq, and contributed to coping in Gaza. Furthermore, support has been given to Ebola prevention in Western Africa as well as to Nepal and Vanuatu island states as countries suffering from natural disasters.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges all of the Estonian people that have contributed to the good of those in distress.  

This year’s World Humanitarian Day calls on people to act for a more decent and humane world, learn from the stories of communities suffering from humanitarian crises, and place value in their humanity, will to survive, and right to a decent life.

This year, UN humanitarian aid organizations endeavor to reach a total of 78.9 million people in need of help in 37 countries. The total number of calls for help has doubled in the past ten years.

In relation to global challenges and changed conditions in the world, a new approach is required to successfully manage the ever-increasing humanitarian challenges. In May 2016, the very first World Humanitarian Summit is held in Istanbul, focusing on adjusting the humanitarian aid system to the expanding emergency needs, and asserting humanitarian principles such as humanity, impartiality, independence, and neutrality. Central subjects include efficiency and innovation, adequate preparation in crises management, and protection of conflict-inflicted people.

For more information about World Humanitarian day go to

For more information about World Humanitarian Summit Istanbul 2016 go to   

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