Mercy Corps: To Fix a Broken System, World Humanitarian Summit Must Disrupt It

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At first-ever summit, tackling root causes of conflict head-on is key

A Mercy Corps team member shows a map to a group of refugees on the island of Lesvos, Greece. Mercy Corps’ mobile unit provides food, water, WiFi and power. Credit: Karine Aigner for Mercy Corps

To build long-term stability and the better world we know is possible, we need to look at what is driving these crises and start there

The global organization Mercy Corps is joining other international organizations, world leaders and the private sector for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit to address a humanitarian system that is no longer capable of meeting exponentially growing need in a world facing a confluence of displacement, crisis and fragility.

With nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced from their homes and one in four people struggling to survive in countries trapped in conflict, Mercy Corps is making its case for rethinking how to fix the humanitarian system.

“The system is not just broke, it is broken,” says Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps. “It is no longer sufficient solely to call for more funding and resources to deal with the humanitarian impact of crises.”

With 89 percent of global funding for humanitarian aid spent on lifesaving assistance in conflict situations that have lasted three or more years, the time is ripe to disrupt the system and prioritize investments tackling root causes of conflict, such as feelings of injustice driven by marginalization, security abuses and weak governance.

In response to a request from the UN Secretary General, Mercy Corps presents three core commitments for the Agenda for Humanity, a framework for action following the Summit:

  •     Address root causes of conflict and work to reduce fragility by investing in the community-led development of inclusive, peaceful societies and integrating conflict-mitigation and peacebuilding initiatives into humanitarian responses.
  •     Meet people’s immediate humanitarian needs while at the same time reducing risk and vulnerability by shifting from a top-down aid delivery model to a system that empowers people to use their local insights to better withstand crises and manage ongoing challenges.
  •     Increase and diversify global support and share of resources for people in fragile and emergency situations.

“If we continue to focus primarily on shortsighted strategies addressing consequences of conflict, humanitarian action will churn in endless cycles of crisis response,” Keny-Guyer says. “To build long-term stability and the better world we know is possible, we need to look at what is driving these crises and start there.”

Mercy Corps works in more than 40 countries around the world to empower people to survive through crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good. Join us at

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Amy Fairbairn
Mercy Corps
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Christy Delafield
Mercy Corps
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