Millennials are changing charitable giving

Many people think of Millennials as self-centered, selfie-snapping, uber-texting, uber-riding, narcissists. Even some Millennials share this opinion. Johnny Oleksinski, a Millennial himself, wrote in the New York Post:

“This is my number one rule: Do whatever millennials don’t. Definite no-nos include quitting a job or relationship the moment my mood drops from ecstatic to merely content; expecting the world to kowtow to my every childish whim; and assuming that I am always the most fascinating person in the room, hell, the zip code.”

He sounds like he’s loads of fun to be around.

But is this true? Are Millennials really the most selfish generation of all time? Are Millennials only obsessed with the Kardashians and Snapchat?

Millennials care more about others than you might think. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report reported that 84 percent of Millennials made a charitable contribution in 2015.

Read about 6 ways that Millennials are changing the face of charitable giving

UN makes its largest funding request ever for humanitarian aid

A new United Nations report detailing its humanitarian aid efforts around the world offers a snapshot of a world in chaos, and a price estimate for what it would cost to prevent the situation from getting worse: a record-breaking $22.2 billion.

“For 2017, humanitarian partners will require $22.2 billion to meet the needs of 92.8 million people in 33 countries,” the report says. “Humanitarian access is severely constrained and has grown in complexity in countries including Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, preventing humanitarians from carrying out their work and leaving affected people without basic services and protection.”

Take Syria, which is slated to receive more than a third of the UN’s total requested funding, or about $8 billion. Over the past five years, fighting there has killed more than 400,000 people, left millions on the brink of starvation, and sent more than half of the country’s prewar population fleeing to safer places inside and outside Syrian borders.

In Yemen, the UN estimates it needs $2.7 billion to help the more than 3 million children and pregnant women who are acutely malnourished there, as well as the millions of others currently at risk of starvation.

South Sudan is also a huge priority for the UN humanitarian effort, which wants to spend $3.4 billion in the country. The conflict there has already killed more than 50,000 people and displaced 1 million refugees. Nearly 4 million people are at risk of starvation.

The money the UN actually receives from the global community often doesn’t come close to fulfilling its needs; the UN basically got about half of what it requested from international donors for this year.

Most of the major conflicts that are driving the UN’s need for funding are showing no sign of letting up. If the world continues on its current course, the UN very well may set another record with its appeal next year.

[Vox]

Changing the world from Seattle

At Cascade Designs, just south of downtown Seattle, something new is coming off the shop floor: a compact, no-frills water purifier designed to bring clean water to struggling populations in rural Africa.

The device, able to chlorinate water by the 55-gallon drum, was designed with help from several big nonprofits, including one funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private philanthropy, and the United States military. And it is an example, in its mix of altruistic and profit-seeking motives, of how fortunes earned a generation ago at Microsoft, the computer software giant, are still shaping economic life here.

Microsoft, co-founded by Mr. Gates and Paul G. Allen, put Seattle on the map as a tech-rich city before the boom of dot-coms. Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen then took some of the billions they made and, starting in the early to mid-2000s, set out to work on global health at the Gates Foundation, and fundamental science in cell and brain research at the Allen Institute.

The result: In trying to change the world, they are also changing their backyard. Their causes, such as clean water, sanitation and health, are spawning a new ecosystem of global health care companies, research institutes and academic expertise at places like the University of Washington.

A study sponsored last year by the Washington Global Health Alliance said that global health–a mix of research, logistics and manufacturing–now accounts for more than 12,000 jobs in Washington state and nearly $6 billion in economic activity. In addition, there are growing networks of second-generation, nonprofit leaders who were schooled at the Gates Foundation or Allen Institute, and have now filtered out to form a kind of self-reinforcing army. Seattle is first in the nation in private foundation revenue per capita, according to the Urban Institute, with two and a half times the amount of the No. 2 city, San Francisco, where philanthropic technology wealth has also soared.

[NY Times]

Syrian refugee makes good on hand up

Abdul Halim al-Attar, a refugee from Syria who was photographed selling pens in the streets of Beirut, is now running three businesses in the city after an online crowdfunding campaign in his name collected $191,000. The 33-year-old father of two opened a bakery two months ago and has since added a kebab shop and a small restaurant to his business venture. He employs 16 Syrian refugees.

One of those moved by al-Attar’s plight was an online journalist and web developer in Norway, Gissur Simonarson, who created a Twitter account and an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 for al-Attar and his family. When it closed three months later, the campaign had collected almost forty times more: $188,685. Another $2,324 in donations has trickled in since then.

“Not only did my life change, but also the lives of my children and the lives of people in Syria whom I helped,” he said. Al-Attar said he gave away about $25,000 to friends and relatives in Syria.

For al-Attar, it’s a long way from Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Damascus where he was employed at a chocolate factory. The camp is now devastated by fighting.

Getting the funds to al-Attar has been a struggle. So far he has only received 40 percent of roughly $168,000, after Indiegogo and Paypal took out about $20,000 in processing and banking fees. PayPal does not operate in Lebanon, so at the moment the cash is brought over to Lebanon bit-by-bit by a friend of the campaign who can make withdrawals in Dubai.

Despite his frustration and the uncertainty about when and whether he’ll receive the rest of his money, al-Attar feels grateful. He sported a T-shirt reading “Stay positive,” and a large smile. “When God wants to grant you something, you’ll get it,” he said.

“Seeing that he opened a restaurant and his kids look well taken care of, I’m really happy,” Simonarson said in a phone interview from Oslo.

[AP]

Toronto couple gives up big wedding plans to help Syrians

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian’s big March 2016 wedding–which they had been planning for over a year–was just months away when a photo of a little boy appeared and shocked the world.

The image of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who had drowned along with several family members in a desperate attempt to reach Europe in September, drew attention to the Syrian refugee crisis like no other photo before it.

The photo “was a turning point, in the sense that we knew this was a perfect time to act,” Yousefian told the Star. “We knew that people were aware of the issue because (the photo) had made such an impact and brought the issue to the fore … We wanted to build on the momentum of that photo. It was a tragic circumstance, and we couldn’t fail to act.”

The couple decided that instead of a big celebration, they would opt for a smaller event at City Hall last month, in hopes of raising enough money to sponsor a Syrian family of four. Their wedding reception doubled as a fundraiser. Fortunately for the couple, their original wedding venue refunded their deposit, which was also a big help toward their $27,000 fundraising goal. So far they’ve raised about $17,500.

“We felt we had an obligation, in light of the humanitarian crisis, to contribute, and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do that,” Yousefian said. “The joy we received from celebrating our wedding with family and friends would be amplified if we could use that as a platform to give back at the same time.”

[Toronto Star]

Frugal innovation for developing countries

“Frugal innovation” is a trendy term for a widely known–yet often overlooked–fact: The developing world cannot afford to throw massive resources at increasingly complex technologies to solve its problems. The developed world’s “model is … too costly, elitist, and rigid and fails to address even basic socioeconomic needs,” explains innovation and leadership strategist Navi Radjou.

In his 2014 TED/Global talk, Radjou illustrated that the “more (and better) with less” strategy is indispensable in developing new technologies. In many cases, simply paring down technologies that already exist makes them more widely accessible.

Accessibility, along with sustainability, affordability, and quality, are the four cornerstones of frugal innovation. They ensure that the technologies make it to the populations that need them most and, further, that the technologies will thrive there.

Crowdsourcing is essential to frugal innovation. Some of the most effective innovations derive not from experts with infinite resources but from individuals who come from the very conditions of poverty they are trying to eradicate–“where the street is the lab,” Radjou says.

Arunachalam Muruganantham, for example, created a simple machine that has provided thousands of women with much-needed sanitary pads. He was a poor college drop-out living in rural India when he built his machine out of sheer necessity as he realized his own wife lacked access to basic feminine hygiene.

And in Kenya, two university students from rural villages came up with a system to recharge a cell phone battery using energy generated from a bicycle. “We took most of [the] items from a junk yard–using bits from spoiled radios and spoiled televisions,” one of the students told the BBC.

[Global Envision]

Austrian volunteers flock to better conditions for refugees

Built to house 1,800, the federally outsourced Traiskirchen facility, 20 kilometers south of Vienna, is now a temporary home to 4,500 refugees.

Until several weeks ago, more than 1,000 people were sleeping on the open lawn, bracing through rain storms and heat-waves alike without any shelter, a situation criticized even by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, who was largely seen as responsible for the inadequate response.

The United Nations and Amnesty International went a step further and describe conditions as “inhumane” and “degrading.”

Images of people sleeping in the open shocked Austrians, said Dunja Gharwal, one of many volunteers independently helping refugees in Traiskirchen. “Austria is a very rich country. We really sit here in abundance, and this is not necessary,” she said, calling it her country’s duty to welcome refugees.

On a recent afternoon, locals parked outside the gates of the former school and unloaded jackets and sneakers in all sizes, as well as thick coats, hats and gloves for the approaching winter to clothe those staying at the refugee camp.

Close to 7,000 volunteers have signed up with Caritas to help in recent months. “Those aren’t just people who’ve filled in on a weekend,” spokesperson Margit Draxl said. “It’s been going on for months, and without them, this help wouldn’t be possible.”

Some bosses allowed volunteers to take paid leave if they wanted to help at camps. Big conglomerates are initiating vocational training programs for young refugees. Austrian singers and bands are organizing a free concert called “Voices of Refugees” in Vienna to collect donations for asylum seekers. Austrian state broadcaster ORF recently set up a website aimed at linking Austrians with vacant apartments or houses with refugees and the organizations that assist them.

“There’s an almost unbelievable readiness to help,” Draxl said.

[VoA]

Going Above Two Percent Giving

Charitable giving has been stuck at 2 percent of U.S. GDP for 40 years, ever since we started measuring it. And in a world of increasing demands and ongoing fiscal belt-tightening — a world where government looks unlikely to step back in to support needed social programs — the nonprofit sector fundamentally has to contend with this fact: two percent just isn’t enough.

So what can we do in response? Basically, we have to do three things: 1) work to increase the amount people give, 2) make the most of every penny we get, and — crucially — 3) go beyond giving entirely.

Number 1 is the work of expert fundraisers, though it’s also the work of everyone else in the social sector. For one thing, we can encourage more giving by being better storytellers. We need to learn to express more clearly and creatively the problems we seek to address and the successes we are having. Too often nonprofit appeals and reports are wonky, overly complex, and just plain boring. Boring doesn’t inspire giving — great storytelling does.

Number 2 is the core work of most of us with jobs in the nonprofit sector, from the folks doing their best to deliver impact to the funders who support them. Rewarding organizations for under-investing in people, technology, effective management, and infrastructure is dumb.

And that brings us to number 3: getting beyond giving. At the end of the day, we are unlikely to get where we need to go merely by getting people to give more. While traditional donor-supported activities are critical to having large-scale impact, alone they probably won’t get us where we need to be. Many of our biggest challenges will require financially self-sustaining solutions. And we can find those solutions in at least two areas.

First, a growing pool of nonprofits employs business-like practices to sustain themselves. Second, as a century of American philanthropy has demonstrated, much of our best work is done when it’s in our economic self-interest. Whether by supporting socially-driven start-ups through impact investments or encouraging socially-driven innovation at major corporations through our purchasing power, we can move forward farther with the business community alongside us.

[Huffington Post]

Not waiting on governments to respond to Syrian humanitarian crisis

Seventy-eight nations, plus 40 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), recently gathered in Kuwait to raise money for the relief of Syrian refugees. Kuwait opened the proceedings with a promise of $500 million, matching last year’s donation. The U.S. won the number one position with an offer $507 million, but many participants offered little more than good will. Overall the conference generated $3.8 billion of the $8.4 billion which aid agencies were seeking.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “Four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation. The country has lost nearly four decades of human development. Unemployment is over 50 percent. Life expectancy has been cut by an astounding 20 years.”

Some 12.2 million people, more than half of the population, are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. A similar number have been displaced — between 6.5 million and 7.8 million — within Syria, and three to four million have been displaced on to neighboring states.

One of the best ways to help those suffering from the Syrian conflict is through private relief groups. Indeed, the crisis has spawned a variety of relief efforts by NGOs around the world, many of which were represented in Kuwait. Private organizations tend to be more diverse and flexible than public agencies.  Many groups have a religious orientation. For instance, World Vision and Catholic Relief Services reflect Christian principles, while Islamic Relief USA is a Muslim organization formed in 1993.

Many other NGOs provide welcome relief throughout the region. CARE, Concern Worldwide, Doctors Without Borders, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Life for Relief and Development, Mercy Corps, Mercy-USA, Save the Children, and Shelterbox all assist victims of the Syrian civil war. Some groups operate directly in Syria, others serve Syrians outside their country; some organizations go to camps while others run refugee centers in surrounding nations; many NGOs emphasize particular forms assistance, such as education, children’s services, food, health care, and shelter. All make a catastrophic situation slightly less awful.

The many NGOs dedicated to aiding Syrians offer a wealth of options for those inclined to give. There’s no reason to wait for politicians to act.

[Forbes]

Médecins Sans Frontières origins

Bernard Kouchner was a Red Cross doctor who founded Médecins Sans Frontières (or Doctors Without Borders as it’s known in the US and Canada).

Kouchner was moved to righteous rage during Nigeria’s civil war of 1967–70, when Biafran secessionists tried to break away from the federation. The International Committee of the Red Cross, hewing to a strict interpretation of humanitarian law, did not speak out on behalf of the Biafran cause and later shuttered its Biafran operation.

Kouchner, convinced that the Nigerians were set to commit genocide against the Biafran populace, was furious. He quit the ICRC and founded Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), aiming for a dynamic, courageous agency ready to rush in where the humanitarian establishment feared to tread.

Alex de Waal, writing in World Affairs, goes on to say, “Kouchner sees himself as a master of using the media to further humanitarian causes, employing his formidable network of contacts among journalists and opinion makers, as well as an instinctive sense of drama, to accomplish his aims.”

Since 1971, Médecins Sans Frontières has grown into an international humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases, its doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators providing medical aid worldwide. These doctors and nurses volunteer their time to help solve issues of world health. Private donors provide about 80% of the organization’s funding, while governmental and corporate donations provide the rest.

In 1999, Médecins Sans Frontières received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its members’ continued efforts to provide medical care in acute crises, as well as raising international awareness of potential humanitarian disasters.

Tripling of people impacted by humanitarian crisis

In the last 10 years, the number of people affected by humanitarian crisis has almost doubled, and the cost of humanitarian assistance has more than tripled.

The needs and conditions of the people affected have also changed. As Oxford scholars Alexander Betts and Louise Bloom explain in their recent paper “Humanitarian Innovation: the state of the art“, while in the past most of the refugees lived in rural camps, more than half of them live now in urban areas.

The average period of displacement is also much longer now: as much as 17 years, according to the UNHCR.

No wonder NGOs and governments are struggling to cope with this situation.

[Forbes]

The Role of the Private Sector in Humanitarian Crises

Ebola is a humanitarian crisis first and foremost, but it is also a mounting economic disaster for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The secondary impacts of the crisis: Farmers are unable to harvest their fields or get their crops to market. Banks and government offices are partially or completely closed. Some companies have suspended operations. Quarantines, curfews and border closures are preventing people from moving freely to work, to their fields or to market. Scores of people have lost their jobs. In Liberia, nearly half of those working when the outbreak was first detected in March 2014 are no longer employed.

Decreasing production, diminished trade, disrupted agriculture and rising prices are likely to cost upwards of $4 billion, according to the World Bank. The scale and complexity of the crisis is unlike anything the humanitarian community has faced.

A coalition of more than 48 companies with major assets and operations in West Africa has come together as the Ebola Private Sector Mobilization Group. Their members have provided direct support through donating funding, personnel, equipment, and through building infrastructure, as well as lending expertise in construction, logistics, and distribution services.

This is very much a win-win: The humanitarian sector gets access to highly skilled personnel; funding, new ways of working and specialized operations, such as logistics and communications; meanwhile, businesses reap benefits of business continuity, building or strengthening customer loyalty, as well as charitable credibility.

Coordination is key and it is the role of the United Nations to lead a comprehensive response to the crisis. UN agencies, donors such as the United States and England, as well at the private sector must provide quick, flexible funding to partners, increasing funding for community mobilization for prevention and preparedness not only in affected countries but in at-risk countries such as Guinea Bissau, Gambia and Senegal.

And finally, NGOs like Oxfam need to do more to partner with local organizations and consult community members to identify the most vulnerable.

[Huffington Post]

UN launches huge humanitarian appeal for 2015

Valerie Amos, UN humanitarian chief, said the number of people affected by conflicts and natural disasters around the world had reached unprecedented levels during 2014, prompting the UN to launch an appeal for $16.4bn in funding.

A year ago, the UN set out to assist 52 million people, but during 2014, the number of people in need has nearly doubled to a record 102 million.

More than 40 percent of the appeal $7.2bn would go to help 18.2 million people suffering from the war in Syria. The appeal also covers Central African Republic, Iraq, and South Sudan, the top humanitarian priorities, as well as Afghanistan, Congo, Myanmar, occupied Palestinian territories, Somalia, Ukraine and Yemen.

The 2015 request, on behalf of 455 aid organizations, does not include money to help feed millions facing hunger in Africa’s Sahel region, which has seen repeated droughts and conflicts.

Amos said aid in 2014 helped avert a famine in South Sudan, fed millions of Syrians each month, provided medical supplies to 1 million Iraqis and paid for food for 903,000 people in Central African Republic.

But with 80 percent of the needy living in conflict-ridden countries, the demands for aid are outstripping the ability to pay for them, Amos said.

[Al-Jazeera]

International aid groups ask for support to help the Philippines

International aid groups have called for donations from all over the world for their relief efforts in the affected areas, mostly in the Visayas and Bicol region, of typhoon “Ruby” (International name: Hagupit).

World Vision has set up a disaster relief fund page asking supporters to donate at least $50, noting that many of Hagupit’s victims are also victims of 2013’s super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also set up a page where people can donate.

Meanwhile, World Food Programme (WFP) also called for financial support in its page while its USA office has called on supporters to donate using their mobile phones.

International Committee of the Red Cross have set-up a page intending to unite families separated by the typhoon.

Oxfam International for its part said it has prepared household water and hygiene kits for victims of “Ruby.”

[Yahoo News]

2014 a troubling year and a sign of things to come

2014 has been dominated by the humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, that have destroyed and disrupted the lives of millions of people. Protracted conflicts like those in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan, violent natural disasters, as well as the Ebola crisis, are seriously testing the limits and response capacities of individuals, organizations, governments and the United Nations.

But 2014 is not just a troubled and turbulent year.  Regrettably, it is also a sign of things to come and a loud warning signal for us all to seriously heed.

All the evidence shows that humanitarian needs are now rising faster than our capacity to meet them. Over the past ten years, the amount requested through humanitarian appeals has risen nearly 600 per cent—from $3 billion at the start of 2004 to $17.9 billion today.

It is increasingly difficult to raise these funds. Earlier this week, the World Food Programme was forced to suspend its support to 1.7 million Syrian refugees, because of acute funding shortages. With winter fast approaching the situation is getting even more critical, and we must also not forget Iraq.

Fifty million people – the highest number since the Second World War — are displaced in their own countries or across borders.  The food price crisis of 2007-2008 led to protests in 50 countries.  This demonstrates how food price shocks can rapidly increase humanitarian needs and cause social unrest.

Humanitarian aid cannot be used to fill the development funding gap or be a substitute for political solutions that are so desperately needed, not least in Syria.

[Excerpts from opening remarks by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, at the Third Annual Global Humanitarian Policy Forum]

World Food Program to suspend aid to Syrians

The United Nations food aid organization said on Monday that it would suspend assistance to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because it had run out of money to support them.

The organization, the World Food Program, said the suspension, taking place immediately, would have “disastrous” consequences for refugees from the Syrian civil war struggling to cope with years of deprivation. Food aid in Syria will come to a halt in February if WFP does not receive additional funds.

The cut in aid will also affect refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey who receive vouchers from the program to exchange for food in local shops. The same mechanism also provides an economic lifeline to communities struggling to cope with the huge influx of Syrian refugees in the last four years.

The food aid cuts “couldn’t come at a worse time,” António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement. “It will impact tens of thousands of the most vulnerable refugee families who are almost entirely dependent on international aid.”

The sudden imposition of the cuts highlights the growing strain all humanitarian aid agencies are facing as they try to cope with a long list of emergencies in places like Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine.

[New York Times]

Facebook and Google raise Ebola Relief

Both Facebook and Google have launched Ebola relief fund-raising campaigns in the past week, calling on their users to donate money to the cause.

And the founder of Facebook is setting a high bar. Before the Facebook button debuted, Mark Zuckerberg donated $25 million of his own money to the relief effort. In a video on his Facebook page he said: “I’m optimistic that together, the Facebook community can help stop Ebola.”

Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles shares his optimism. Her organization has built Ebola treatment units in Liberia and Sierra Leone and is now setting up systems to support children orphaned by the disease. When Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, reached out to Save the Children about a possible collaboration, Miles jumped at the chance.

“The tremendous reach that Facebook has, and the voice that they have, gives us a chance to reach a much bigger audience,” says Miles. “A lot of countries, like the U.S., are just focused on what’s happening here about Ebola. Facebook wants to help us direct the focus back to West Africa.”

 [NPR]

How Millennials are reshaping charity and online giving

Millennials are spending — and giving away their cash — a lot differently than previous generations, and that’s changing the game for giving, and for the charities that depend on it.

Scott Harrison’s group, Charity: Water, is a prime example. Harrison volunteered to spend two years in West Africa. What he found when he first got to Liberia was a drinking water crisis. He watched 7-year-olds drink regularly from chocolate-colored swamps — water, he says, that he wouldn’t let his dog drink.

He got inspired to start raising money for clean water when he returned to the states, but his friends were wary. “They all said, ‘I don’t trust charities. I don’t give. I believe these charities are just these black holes. I don’t even know how much money would actually go to the people who I’m trying to help,’ ” Harrison recalls.

So his one cause became two: He started Charity: Water to dig wells to bring clean drinking water to the nearly 800 million people without access to it around the globe. But he also wanted to set an example with the way the organization did its work.

“We’re also really trying to reinvent charity, reinvent the way people think about giving, the way that they give,” he says.

Demographic change is a huge reason for rethinking this. With around 80 million millennials coming of age, knowing how they spend their cash on causes is going to be critical for nonprofits. And their spending patterns aren’t the same as their parents.

[Read full NPR article

Oxfam calls for military intervention for West African Ebola crisis

Ebola is poised to become the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”, Oxfam has warned, with more troops, funding and medical aid urgently needed to tackle the outbreak.

In an “extremely rare” move, the charity is calling for military intervention to provide logistical support across West Africa. It says the world has less than two months to counter the spread of the deadly virus, so troops are now “desperately needed” to build treatment centers, provide flights and offer engineering and logistical support.

While Britain was leading the way in Europe’s response to the epidemic, it said countries which have failed to commit troops were “in danger of costing lives”. Oxfam highlighted Italy, Australia and Spain as examples of countries who have committed no troops, despite Spain having a specialist medical expertise unit in its military.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s chief executive, warned the world “is in the eye of a storm” as the latest outbreak progresses. “We cannot allow Ebola to immobilize us in fear, but instead we must move toward a common mission to stop it from getting worse,” he cautioned.

An Oxfam spokeswoman added: “The Ebola crisis could become the definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation. The world was unprepared to deal with it. It is extremely rare for Oxfam to call for military intervention to provide logistical support in a humanitarian emergency. “However, the military’s logistical expertise and capacity to respond quickly in great numbers is vital.”

[The Independent]

You can provide care for those affected by humanitarian crises

Recently in Northern and Central Iraq, clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), its allied militias, the government of Iraq and Kurdish regional government security forces have driven thousands of people from their homes. Since January 2014, an estimated 1.8 million people have been displaced by violence in Iraq. Their brutal circumstances are confounding, but their need for medical services, clean water, food and shelter are not very different from the privations of people affected by natural disasters.

Four thousand miles from Iraq, a protracted outbreak of the Ebola virus continues to wreak havoc across Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. As of this writing there are more 5,335 and 2,622 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Widespread population loss has threatened fragile local economies and has left many children parentless — two of numerous factors that will have ramifications long after the disease is contained.

The humanitarian emergencies in West Africa and Northern Iraq are different, but the best way to help those who suffer is the same — through cash donations to reputable organizations working with communities on the ground. Even small financial donations combine to make a huge difference in the lives of people affected by disasters. As is the case after natural disasters, donors who make the most positive and enduring impacts give monetary support to relief organizations working in affected areas, initially and over time. Unlike unsolicited material donations — those not requested by organizations working in affected communities — monetary donations enable immediate support to communities.

As situations evolve quickly in complex humanitarian emergencies like these, cash allows relief organizations to respond to changing needs quickly; enabling them to deliver essential supplies that are fresh and familiar, a huge comfort in these tragic circumstances. Most important, monetary donations empower those in the hardest hit regions to rebuild their communities, as those impacted will need support for years after the crises ease and the world’s attention turns elsewhere.

[Juanita Rilling, Director of the United States Agency for International Development’s Center for International Disaster Information, writing in Huffington Post