GENEVA: The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League has taken part in a summit of major international organizations to coordinate responses to accelerating global challenges.
The forum, held in Geneva, Switzerland, was launched under the title: “Cooperation between International Organizations in the Humanitarian Fields.”
It included — in addition to the MWL and the World Council of Churches — the World Health Organization, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Food Programme and a group of prominent international leaders in humanitarian work.
MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa delivered the forum’s opening speech.
He expressed appreciation for the outstanding humanitarian efforts carried out by WHO in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for other international governmental and nongovernmental organizations that carry out pioneering humanitarian work.
However, he expressed his regret that “humanitarian work has not reached the required level of solidarity and sympathy, and the gap between the rich and the poor remains wide, despite the existence of one international system.”
Al-Issa added: “We do not object to the existence of the rich and the poor, as this is the nature of life, but we call on the rich to alleviate the suffering of the poor by supporting them, especially with the necessities of life such as food, medicine and education.
“It is painful, for example, to see the rich obtain a COVID-19 vaccine while the poor do not get it, or do not get it until late, or get only some doses.
“There is also another reason that drives and even motivates humanitarian work, which is the religious aspect.”
The MWL chief described the religious motive “as one of the strongest, most vital and sustainable motivators of humanitarian action.”
He stressed that it is a faith motive linked to heaven, “and everything related to the creator, glory be to him, has a strong cord that is not affected by any emergency and cannot be severed.
“This is why we believe that voluntary work is one of the strongest pillars of the work of humanitarian organizations around the world, the most important of which is what is based on a religious motive related to the creator. Honest and abstract religious feelings heal wounds, quench thirst, feed the hungry, educate, train and sponsor orphans and widows.”
Al-Issa said: “It should be noted that it is important for the relevant international organizations to have performance measurements for countries in the field of humanitarian work, and they should honor public and private institutions, and individuals who have outstanding efforts in humanitarian work, whether in the field of food, health, education, training or others, including helping the marginalized and the abused, and those subjected to forced labor, particularly human trafficking crimes.”
He reviewed the efforts of the MWL in humanitarian work around the world, stressing that its premise is “faith and humanity without any discrimination,” religious or otherwise. He announced the MWL’s plan to launch an international award to promote the most important efforts in service of humanitarian work.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, called for support of medical workers to help them carry out their duties in saving the lives of refugees and displaced persons.
He said: “I grew up in a war zone, and the smell, sounds and scenes of war dominated my senses. I recall these painful memories every time I’m visiting a combat zone, and I wish that would stop immediately.”
The UNHCR speech, delivered by Kelly Clements, emphasized that peace is the “permanent cure for the displacement crisis,” as well as the cure for many of the hardships facing human beings today. Clements warned that the crisis of displaced people in the world is so huge that no organization can handle it alone.
Secretary-General of the WCC Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca said that despite the importance of the work of international humanitarian agencies, national and local faith-based organizations are the vanguards and long-term foundations of humanitarian relief and development. He said that church members do not carry out humanitarian work for the sake of evangelization or other agendas, but to pursue their identity as Christians.
Jagan Chapagain, secretary-general of the IFRC, said that the availability of local leadership for humanitarian work is a vital issue, “and we saw how closures for health reasons and travel restrictions tied our hands in organizations, and the only bet was on local associations.”
He added that the challenges facing humanitarian work are not limited to wars and conflicts, but include climate change, economic collapse and discrimination in all its forms, in addition to the effects of COVID-19.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley warned that rising food prices and inflation have pushed more than 48 countries around the world into situations of instability, political unrest, rioting and protest.