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Harper Government Engages Humanitarian Assistance Representatives

March 5, 2013 - As part of a continued effort to improve the way Canadian humanitarian assistance is provided, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, and Parliamentary Secretary Lois Brown, brought together Canadianhumanitarian assistance stakeholders today to discuss how to continue to meet the needs of those affected by humanitarian crises, as well as to find more strategic opportunities for collaboration.

"Canadians have always responded generously to calls for international assistance in times of emergency and disaster," said Minister Fantino. "On my visit to Burkina Faso, I saw first-hand how our collective actions are making a real difference in the lives of millions of vulnerable people. By working closely with our partners, the Harper Government is delivering on our commitment to improve the effectiveness of Canadian humanitarian assistance."

Humanitarian needs have risen steadily over the past two decades, primarily due to global trends such as the increasing frequency and scale of weather-related natural disasters, rapid urbanization and population growth, and the growing complexity of humanitarian crises, in which conflict and displacement remain constant in the lives of millions. In 2012, working through with our partners, Canada has responded to 31 natural disasters, as well as complex emergencies affecting 52 countries. Humanitarian needs, identified in the United Nations consolidated appeal, remain high in 2013 where humanitarian action is aiming to provide aid to at least 51 million people in 16 countries who desperately need life-saving assistance. The number of chronically undernourished people also remains high at 870 million, and over 42 million are forcibly displaced.

"In a humanitarian crisis, quick and coordinated action saves lives," said Oxfam Canada Executive Director Robert Fox. "We welcome this opportunity to work with the Government of Canada to improve our collective response. For organizations like Oxfam that support preparedness and build resilience through our long-term development work, strong collaboration is even more important."

Today's Humanitarian Assistance Roundtable included representatives from eleven Canadian humanitarian assistance stakeholders: Canadian Red Cross Society; Canadian Foodgrains Bank; World Vision Canada; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Canada; Doctors without Borders; Humanitarian First Canada; and Humanitarian Coalition member agencies, comprised of CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Québec, Plan Canada, and Save the Children Canada.

"With more than 50 years of experience in humanitarian relief, World Vision's foremost concern is the plight of children," said World Vision Canada President Dave Toycen." This sector faces many emerging issues, from conflicts in places like Somalia that are testing humanitarian principles, to the challenges of aid effectiveness during complex disasters such as the Haiti earthquake. As one of the Government of Canada's close partners during emergencies, World Vision welcomes the opportunity to participate in this important roundtable and we look forward to continued dialogue and collaboration."

As Canada's lead agency for international humanitarian assistance, CIDA ensures that Canada's response is timely and appropriate. Working in coordination with other government departments and key humanitarian partners, CIDA responds to a variety of critical needs around the world. Through CIDA's International Humanitarian Assistance Program, Canada aims to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain the dignity of those affected by conflicts and natural disasters by providing appropriate, timely, and effective responses.

To learn more about Canada's Humanitarian Assistance please visit CIDA's Humanitarian Response to Crises.

Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, hosted a round table discussion to consider ways to best meet the needs of those affected by humanitarian crises, as well as to discuss opportunities for strategic collaboration amongst humanitarian organizations.

Pictured from left to right are: Margaret Biggs, President, CIDA; Greta Bossenmaier, Senior Executive Vice-President, CIDA; Dr. Aslam Daud, Humanity First Canada; Meg French, UNICEF Canada; Rosemary Carney, Plan Canada; Jean Pierre Chicoine, Oxfam Québec; Jim Cornelius, Canadian FoodGrains Bank; Conrad Sauvé, Canadian Red Cross; the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation; Robert Fox, Oxfam Canada; Patricia Erb, Save the Children Canada; David Toycen, World Vision Canada; Kevin McCort, CARE Canada; Stephen Cornish, Doctors without Borders; Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary for International Cooperation; Diane Jacovella, Vice-President, Multilateral Global Programs Branch, CIDA.

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For more information, media should contact:

Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Follow us on Twitter: @CIDA_CA