Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP
Rt Hon Clare Short
25 February 2016
Global Humanitarian System
Dear Andrew and Clare,
Thank you very much for your recent letter highlighting issues arising from your recent visit to the Syria Turkey border. You suggested that the Committee may wish to explore the issues you raise further.
The Committee is already conducting a short inquiry on the Global Humanitarian System. Our intention is to publish a short report ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in May, to help identify priorities for that event. The inquiry provides the opportunity for the Committee to give at least a preliminary consideration to the matters to which you have drawn our attention. Indeed, written evidence submitted to the inquiry has identified the issue of the operation of organisations on the frontline in Syria. The Overseas Development Institute wrote: “Our research has highlighted the importance of revisiting the applicability of counter-terrorism legislation in humanitarian emergencies to ensure that counter-terrorism objectives do not undermine humanitarians’ ability to negotiate with armed groups, for example to gain access to areas they may control to assist and protect populations in need. These are discussions that cannot be left out of the WHS High-Level Leaders’ Roundtable on political leadership to prevent and end conflicts”.
This issue, and the other issues you raise about potential or perceived discrimination against Muslim charities and challenges for international NGOs in using the banking system to support their operations, are not an explicit focus for the Committee’s current inquiry. However, they are clearly relevant. The Committee would like to invite you to come and give oral evidence. That way we could understand in more detail the issues you have identified. It would also be an excellent opportunity for us to learn from your experiences as Secretaries of State for International Development, and get your thoughts on these issues and other priorities in the context of the wider World Humanitarian Summit agenda.
The terms of reference for our current inquiry are as follows:
What should DFID’s priorities be for next year’s Humanitarian Summit and how can it push these up the agenda?
In the case of protracted crises, how can the global approach better ensure that humanitarian assistance evolves into longer term development support when needed?
What are the shortcomings of the global humanitarian assistance funding model and how can these be overcome?
To what extent are improvements to humanitarian responses inhibited by the slow pace of reform within the UN system?
Are responses sufficiently tailored to particularly vulnerable groups? Do early responders have the necessary expertise in areas such as child protection and gender-based violence (GBV), and are there effective processes for integrating these priorities into longer term plans?
The No Lost Generation Initiative (NLGI) has highlighted the impact of humanitarian crises on children. What more can be done to ensure that the potential for negative lifelong impact of crises on children is minimised?
I hope that you will respond favourably to our invitation to give oral evidence to the Committee. The Committee staff will be in touch with your offices to suggest a date and time. In the meantime, may I thank you again for writing to me on these important matters.
Stephen Twigg MP
Chair of the Committee
6 May 2016