Reuters International

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the opening ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal


ISTANBUL (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on governments, businesses and aid groups at the U.N.'s first world humanitarian summit to commit to halving the number of displaced civilians by 2030.

The two-day conference in Istanbul seeks to develop a better response to what the U.N. has called the worst global humanitarian situation since World War Two, with an estimated 130 million people now in need of aid.

"We are here to shape a different future," Ban said in a speech at the start of the summit.

"I urge you to commit to cutting (by) half (the number of) internally displaced people by 2030 and to find better long-term solutions for refugees and displaced people based on more equal sharing of responsibilities," he said.

The summit aims to mobilise funds and get world leaders to agree on issues ranging from how to manage displaced civilians to renewing commitments to international humanitarian law.

But it risks falling short of ambitions. Aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres pulled out in May, saying it lost hope the conference could address weaknesses in emergency response. Host country Turkey has called the international humanitarian aid system "broken".

Ahead of the opening, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his criticism of the West for not doing enough to help the people of war-torn Syria.

"The extent to which the international humanitarian system lies broken is alarming," he wrote in an opinion piece published in the Guardian newspaper.

"The international community in particular has largely ignored its responsibilities toward the Syrian people by turning a blind eye to Bashar al-Assad's crimes against his own citizens."

Erdogan has been one of President Bashar al-Assad's most vocal critics and sees his removal as essential to ending Syria's war. Turkey is sheltering nearly 3 million Syrian refugees at a cost of around $10 billion since the start of the Syrian civil war.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Ayla Jean Yackley; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall)


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