13th December, 2018
UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, has told a top panel on humanitarian aid that maintaining a “fire-fighting approach is not sustainable” in the long term.
Speaking at the seventh annual Global Humanitarian Policy Forum, Mohammed said around one in every 60 people across the world is caught up in a crisis that requires urgent humanitarian assistance.
She regretted that poverty, climate change and other challenges were leaving multitudes vulnerable to the devastating impacts of war and natural disaster.
Mohammed spotlighted that Yemen remained on the brink of famine, Ebola was resurgent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and “some two billion people still lack safe drinking water – more than a quarter of the world”.
“Global hunger has increased for a third consecutive year. Almost one-in-nine people suffer from hunger,” she said.
Mohammed noted that some 132 million people, mostly women and girls, would need aid and protection in 42 countries around the world, commending generous donors and humanitarian workers.
The UN deputy chief, however, stated: “We should be trying to prevent these crises from happening in the first place, rather than helping people to survive them once they erupt”.
“We need political solutions; and we need to invest in sustainable development to resolve and prevent crises – of all kinds”, she maintained.
The forum, organised by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is assessing the current humanitarian landscape to identify concrete approaches to challenges, such as compliance, financing and humanitarian-development collaboration.
Mohammed called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “our blueprint” for long-term investment in resilient States and “our best tool” to prevent and overcome existing crises.
According to her, children suffer the most in humanitarian crises, saying that in countries affected by emergencies, they often lose their homes, family members, friends, and sense of security and normal routine.
“But without access to education, they are also at risk of losing their futures,” she added.
The deputy UN scribe pointed out that 60 per cent of preventable maternal deaths occurred in crisis zones, and that girls are more than twice as likely as boys to be out of school there.
She maintained that “implementing the SDGs is first and foremost about saving and improving the lives of people and preventing suffering.”
“We also need to walk the talk by investing in women’s participation and gender equality,” she stressed, highlighting that this effectively bolsters humanitarian aid programmes.
By the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced, from 59.5 million in 2014, while food insecurity escalated from 108 million in 2016 to an estimated 124 million.
The average humanitarian appeal lasts seven years compared to four in 2005; this, Mohammed lamented: “Yet less than two per cent of our humanitarian aid goes to meeting this goal. This must change.”
She also cited the recent UN-World Bank study, ‘Pathways for Peace’, which estimated that conflict prevention could save some $34 billion in economic damage, annually.
She encouraged everyone present to think about innovative solutions and partnerships that could help address the challenges “that hinder our ability to prevent and exit existing crises while we continue to save lives and to do this at scale.”
“Those furthest behind need and deserve opportunities and hope of a better future,” the deputy UN chief stressed.