On Friday, 3rd March 2017, the 4th Humanitarian Congress took part in the venerable halls of the University of Vienna. One of the main goals of the Humanitarian Congress is to increase the visibility of humanitarian work. Furthermore, it aims at increasing the awareness among relevant political decision makers for the importance of humanitarian aid and respective funding, both at the national, the European and the international level.
The Humanitarian Congress Vienna unites experts from medical, humanitarian and international organisations, politics, media and a great number of students from different academic subjects. Additionally, the Congress offers an exceptional combination of humanitarian and political keynote speeches and debates.
This year’s Humanitarian Congress Vienna was guided by the motto: « Forced to Flee – Humanity on the Run». Ärzte ohne Grenzen, Caritas Austria, Global Responsibility, Austrian Red Cross and SOS Children´s Villages organized the Congress in collaboration with HOPE´87, Care, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Hilfswerk Austria International, Jugend eine Welt, Light for the world, World Vision. About 450 participants registered for participation.
Annelies Vilim, the Director of the AG Global Responsibility (the Austrian Platform of Organisations working in Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid) welcomed the 450 participants registered for the Congress.
The panel consisted of moderator Alistair Dutton, Director, SCIAF – Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund and panel members:
Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Gerald Knaus, Foundinga Chairman, European Stability Initiative (ESI)
Ulrike Lunacek, Politician, Vice President of the European Parliament
Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR
The global phenomenon of (forced) migration, particularly of people seeking refuge and protection, is met by the Western world, including Austria, mainly with a policy of deterrence and the externalization of borders aiming at keeping refugees out. This panel discussed the manifold humanitarian and global consequences of this policy, and argued that this policy ignores the fundamental principles of humanitarian assistance, namely that human suffering be addressed wherever it is found and that respect for life, health, and human dignity must be safeguarded.
During the breaks, the participants of the Congress could inform themselves about the work of the NGOs that organized the Humanitarian Congress. HOPE’87 was also represented with a information desk where HOPE’87 team members, Assistant Secretary General Maisa Khalil as well as Volunteers Marlene Neudorfer and Miriam Winter distributed information material, presented a slideshow about the current activities and answered the questions of the visitors.
Thus, by listening to the panel discussions, informal and formal discussions about the relevance of humanitarian aid and other important related issues, the day passed by quickly. Altogether, it was a very exciting and successful day for HOPE’87 as many participants now know more about our organization and our work, especially concerning humanitarian aid.