Istanbul to Host 125 Nations at World Humanitarian Summit

Istanbul will host a first of its kind humanitarian summit later this month, a spokesman for the event told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

“We are living in the worst humanitarian situation since World War II,” said Herve Verhoosel. “The situation today is such that we need to change about what we do. That's why there is the call for this summit.”

Just 85 million people of the 125 million in need of humanitarian aid, receive it, he said. “The gap in between is partly due to money and partly due to political or logistic issues.”

The May 23-24 gathering will be the first global humanitarian summit for the U.N. since the world body was founded, according to Verhoosel, who said the idea was birthed three years ago, borne out of the childhood experience of the U.N. chief.

"When Ban Ki-moon was a little boy in Korea, he was displaced with his family during the Korean War. He knows what it is to leave his home, to abandon everything, to live in a camp as a refugee. He knows how refugees today are living in Europe, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon,” Verhoosel said. “He decided it was time to do something, to see what we need to change. In fact, the way we deliver humanitarian support.”

More than 6,000 attendees, at least 125 U.N. member states and 50 heads of states or governments, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, are expected to attend.

"The U.N. alone cannot find a solution to the humanitarian situations, so the summit is open to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well,” he said.

The summit will produce a chair summary and a report by the Secretary General will be submitted to the General Assembly for intergovernmental discussion.

"We hope there will be commitments from member states, NGOs and private sector," Verhoosel said.