Charities in Crisis

Around a long table in a secluded conference room of the Sheraton Hotel, impassioned debate centred around an evolving crisis in the middle east. A Salafist refugee camp erupted into chaos, destroying supplies from humanitarian supplies delivered by Western Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Fueled by resentment towards Western organizations and the aid they provide, the group was sent  into a discussion on the best way to appease the situation, the appropriate way to approach future aid shipments to the area,  and the building of a new environment of increased trust between international recipients of humanitarian aid and the Western Organizations that supply it, all while guaranteeing the safety of numerous valued workers. Many argued for the prioritization of the safety of employees “who are the heart of [the] organizations” and guarantee the existence of continued aid. Division in the group stemmed from the decision of who to involve the most in peace-keeping and peacebuilding efforts: local or international NGOs. The representative from the Human Right’s Watch pointed out that while Western NGOs may not go into the region with imperialistic intentions, political and NGO history in the area has caused many locals to be wary of the motives of Western NGOs motives– causing these locals to interpret humanitarian efforts as threatening and furthermore resort to violence. However, the involvement of local NGO Izala Society also proved controversial. The organization shared the same Salafist (a conservative movement of the Sunni branch of Islam) origins as the violent refugees, leading some to believe that they would serve as a threat to the rest of the NGOs while others believed that they should be heavily involved in resolving the conflict. “I believe they should be at the core of any solution provided” said the representative from the Human Rights Watch, adding that she thought that the Izala Society could “help foster trust and serve as a liaison” between the locals and larger international NGOs. Many NGO’s cited the additional need for increased understanding between the two groups and the representative from the International Federation of Red Cross argued strongly that “changing the mindset [of refugees] requires education”, particularly education concerning Western culture and the NGOs that originate from the region.

A number of solutions to the continued crisis were brought forth through two distinct directives that both passed. The first directive (directive 1.6) focused primarily on long term solutions to the crisis including security improvements, the fostering of a friendly environment lacking the prejudices that birthed the initial crisis, and an all round “complete solution” as stated by the delegate from the Forum for African Women Educationalists. However, the opposition staunchly held that directive 1.6 did not contain sufficient short term solutions to diffuse the immediate crisis. Directive 1.5, which passed almost unanimously, was advocated to include short term and long term solutions and solutions to prevent potential hostage crises in the future.

With two strong directives passing before the closing of committee meeting II, the group looks to find further comprehensive solutions to both their immediate refugee crisis the ongoing refugee crisis in the middle east and abroad


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