A diverse group of NGO influencers and decision makers from around the world has come together for the Bridging the Gaps forum at the QEII Conference Centre, Westminster under the auspices of the World Humanitarian Action Forum.

The NGOs are meeting to discuss ways for greater collaborative working at local, national and international levels.

Dr Hany El-Banna OBE, President of The Humanitarian Forum (THF), said:

“Since the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in 2016, we have been working with partners across the globe to reassess the current humanitarian system. With the World Humanitarian Action Forum initiative, we intend to establish practical partnerships between all stakeholders, on the issues that matter most.

“In addition, we aim to strengthen local organisations and work with the international humanitarian community to enable us all to stand up to the greatest humanitarian catastrophes over the last two decades.”

The World Humanitarian Action Forum believes that now more than ever a collective effort is required on regional priorities and mechanisms for organising humanitarian responses that promote sustainable development. It aims to encourage dialogue and promote partnerships among NGOs, giving delegates a chance to learn from each other, share experiences and develop recommendations to inform humanitarian policy.

Three key issues affecting the humanitarian sector will be addressed in action-orientated roundtables:

Bank de-risking and financial access: Shared risk, shared responsibility                                       

This roundtable addresses how Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies have impacted on the NGO sector, especially those that operate within conflict zones that are considered high risk. Is de-risking doing more harm than good? Over the last six months the Humanitarian Forum, in partnership with the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute and the London School of Economics, has undertaken a number of country case studies to understand the impact of de-risking on humanitarian organisations and their financial access. The research covers Yemen, Syria (& Lebanon), Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan and West Bank and Gaza. The roundtable will share some of the research findings with a group of experts on CTF, bankers and humanitarians.

Led by The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and supported by The London School of Economics, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Al Rayan Bank, Human Appeal, Charity & Security Network, Human Security Collective and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Localisation agenda: Sustainable investment and core capacity                                 

This roundtable looks to identify concrete recommendations about how we can better move forward the Grand Bargain and Charter for Change ambitions to invest in the core systems and costs of national organisations. Led by The Humanitarian Leadership Academy and the NEAR Network, and supported by CAFOD, the British Red Cross and Christian Aid.

Conflicts and crises: Forced migration and protection with a focus on GBV (Gender-Based Violence)

According to the latest statistic from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.6m people around the globe have been forced out of their homes. Some 22.5m are refugees, and more than half are under the age of 18 (UNHCR: 2017). This roundtable will look to identify and highlight the problems, share models of good practice, experiences and solutions, and agree on recommendations to inform policy and action. Led by Islamic Relief Worldwide and supported by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The World Humanitarian Action Forum is organised by several partners in collaboration with more than 35 organisations, from local and national NGOs to International NGOs, think tanks, the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, and academia.

The Humanitarian Forum is the secretariat of the World Humanitarian Action Forum initiative. It is a network of humanitarian and development organisations that seeks to improve the lives of those in need, and relations between communities, through bridge building and quality humanitarian action both internationally and locally with a global network of peers.

For more information about WHAF17, visit http://humanitarianforum.org/whaf.

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