Administering humanitarian aid is becoming increasingly difficult as natural disasters and wars displace more and more people, Ibrahim Gambari, Ph.D., the United Nations undersecretary general for political affairs, told graduates of Fordham University’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) program.
Gambari, Nigeria’s longest-serving ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, delivered the commencement address at the 22nd IDHA graduating class on June 29 at the Lincoln Center campus, where he was also presented with an honorary diploma. He used war-torn Iraq as an example of challenges facing aid workers in the new century.
“The security situation has affected the UN’s ability to carry out its activities. . . gross violations of human rights, including killings, kidnappings and torture continue unabated in many parts of the country,” he said. “If [the situation]continues, the political and social fabric of the country could affect the stability and security of the whole region. We have to give the people of Iraq some hope that help is on the way.”
Gambari outlined UN initiatives in Iraq that would protect the aid workers and would stimulate long-term economic development, as ways to alleviate the suffering.
In all, 36 students from 25 nations received the program’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance after completing the monthlong course at Fordham. The program is designed to help humanitarian aid professionals function more effectively in times of “complex emergencies,” including wars and natural disasters. Since its inception in 1997, the program has graduated 830 workers from 113 nations.
The course is directed by Larry Hollingworth and administered under Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, headed by Kevin M. Cahill, M.D. (FCRH ’57).