A year from hell to leave behind
Build a better 2015 for people from Syria to Congo and beyond
BY David Miliband
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 5:00 AM
New York always aims to be the biggest and the best. So it is with the annual party in Times Square: An estimated 1 million people cram into the area, and more than a billion watch on TV.
But New York also does firsts. So it is with the decision that this year, the celebrations will have a charity partner: the International Rescue Committee I lead. We were founded by Albert Einstein when he fled to New York from Germany in 1933. Now we work in 40 countries to help people whose lives have been shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.
At one minute to midnight, I will join Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, refugees from South Sudan-turned-supermodels; Sonam Lama, a Nepalese refugee resettled in New York by the IRC, and Jencarlos Canela, a Cuban-American singer-songwriter, to push the button to lower the famous ball and usher in 2015.
New York will send a message that it has not forgotten its roots in immigration, its values of providing shelter for poor and huddled masses or its commitment to send a message of compassion and humanity around the world.
For the people we at IRC serve, the new year cannot come soon enough. The year that is passing, 2014, was the year from hell. New wars started — ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the civil war in South Sudan. And old wars continued — from Afghanistan to Congo.
Some 2 million people in South Sudan have fled their homes. More than a million were driven out of communities in Pakistan in a humanitarian crisis that never hit the headlines. A staggering half of all of Syrians, 11 million in total, are running for their lives.
And then there is Ebola: over 7,000 dead and the whole of West Africa in fear of the disease.
In total, more than 50 million people have been driven from their homes by conflict and disaster this year. One person every four seconds became a refugee. As President Obama said, if you switch on the news, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world was falling apart.
A growing number of countries are unable to contain religious, ethnic and political differences within their own boundaries. And the international system is either too weak or divided to step in.
America’s decade of war may be coming to an end, but there’s reason to fear that a decade of disorder has already begun.
Tragically, the humanitarian forecast for 2015 is even worse: more displacement and more conflict-driven crises, with politics showing little sign of stepping up to the challenge.
So the aid business is needed like never before. But in order to meet new challenges, it needs to change.
We need clearer goals for humanitarian action — balancing economic and social needs. We need clearer evidence of what works — like empowering women and girls. We need to work more closely with communities so they can sustain our interventions on the ground — for example, making sure that we employ local people in top positions. We need to share the burden of financing with emerging economies.
International politics may be failing, but if we prioritize humanitarian efforts, we can save more lives and rebuild more livelihoods. We need to take risks, find new partners and extend services that we know work, like giving people who don’t have money the cash they need to decide what will help them most, and expand the services on a big scale.
Whether or not you’re joining the party in Times Square, you can be there — part of the New Year’s party, and part of the movement to build a better future — in spirit. Tweet a selfie with the hashtag HeresToHumanity, or post one to Instagram, and your picture may appear in Times Square on a giant billboard.
If you look at the facts, it is easy to be downcast. But if you think of the people in need — and their resilience, courage and ingenuity, it is impossible not to be inspired.
Miliband is president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.
See the original article: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/david-miliband-year-hell-leave-behind-article-1.2061218