Bolstering the Humanitarian Cause in Europe

VOICE (Voluntary Organizations in Cooperation in Emergencies) Out Loud – established to “build bridges to sustainably reduce human suffering worldwide,” is marking a milestone – two-and-a-half decades of existence.  Alongside the World Humanitarian Summit’s first anniversary, to mark these events, VOICE invited various individuals and representatives of organizations working toward this cause to discuss their contributions on some of the principal topics impacting humanitarian action around Europe.

One example is Sonya Reines-Djivanides, the Executive Director of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO).  She explained what her European independent platform of NGO networks seeks to achieve.  Committed to building peace and counteracting violent conflict, the organization that started in 2001 with around 16 member organizations has today expanded to 35. In addition, Reines-Djivanides speaks of the role Civil Society Organizations (CSO) take in this, bolstering their interaction with the EU.  She notes that “while there is an open door for communication with the EU, it should not be taken for granted. We need to continue to push for the role of CSOs and we need to be nuanced about what their role is. But it also depends on the topic and with whom. Given the places where many of your members and ours work, and their experiences, they deserve a seat at the table. They have really valid expertise and often it’s the kind of expertise that doesn’t exist internally amongst EU decision-makers. So it’s not just in a watchdog capacity but also in an expertise capacity where CSOs need to be more involved. We also have to be willing to adapt our messages. We have to make sure that the information we present and that the way we are engaging, can be absorbed. We have to be flexible in how we approach people.”

Others who contributed to this 25th year edition included: Michael Mosselmans of Christian Aid, Isidore Ngueuleu associated with OXFAM, Pauline Chetcuti of Action Contre le Faim and more.

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