The UN considers how to strengthen the delivery of humanitarian aid

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The ECOSOC session on humanitarian affairs brings together UN agencies, diplomats, aid workers, the private sector and other partners for three days to discuss challenges and priorities, and to share experiences and lessons learned.

ECOSOC President, Collen Kelapile, recalled that the world is experiencing the greatest number of violent conflicts since 1945 and that the disregard for international humanitarian law remains a major concern.

“Constraints on humanitarian access continue to prevent affected people from receiving life-saving assistance. Too often aid workers are harassed, threatened and even killed,” he said.

Preparation is vital

Mr Kelapile urged participants to learn lessons from the pandemic to adapt their work and better prepare for future crises. He also called for greater accountability and enhanced respect for international humanitarian law.

“We must preserve humanitarian space and ensure that people in vulnerable situations receive the assistance they need,” he added.

“We need to better understand the humanitarian impacts of climate change and prepare for the ever-increasing threats the crisis will bring. This spirit of cooperation is essential to overcome the enormous challenges ahead of us,” he said.

In his remarks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that UN humanitarian agencies and their partners are working every day to support people in need.

“These challenges compel us to step up our efforts to support a strong, flexible and well-resourced humanitarian system better equipped to reach and protect the most isolated and marginalized people,” he said in a video message to the meeting.

Increase funding

Mr. Guterres advocated for a humanitarian system centered on the needs of people and which supports local partners on the ground, in particular women and women’s organizations.

The UN chief also said a humanitarian appeal for Ukraine is now 70% funded, but needs are growing rapidly across the world.

He called for stepping up both durable solutions and financial support, helping pandemic recovery in every country and protecting the future by limiting global warming.

Strengthening humanitarian assistance must be synonymous with preventing humanitarian crises, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid told participants.

Protect aid workers

“Humanitarian aid and assistance are already at the forefront of climate emergencies. We need to diversify humanitarian aid, so as to draw on the expertise and skills of local communities,” he said.

Shahid also highlighted the dangers faced by aid workers when delivering aid, adding that more needs to be done to ensure their safety.

“Thanks to your continued support and commitments, we can not only strengthen humanitarian assistance, but also protect the lives of the many selfless aid workers on the ground,” he said.

Registration numbers in needUN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths has warned that ‘global mega-crises’ are now developing at a speed and on a scale that threaten to undo decades of progress hard-won in development, governance and social protection.

More than 300 million people across the planet need humanitarian assistance, a figure that has never been so high, while the number of displaced people and refugees has exceeded 100 million.

Collectively, UN humanitarian appeals this year total $46 billion. “We usually get a little over half of that,” he said.

Mr Griffiths called for a “change of tactics”, starting with making excess food stocks available and removing blockages that affect food and fertilizer trade.

Like the Secretary-General, he also called for placing the needs and priorities of beneficiaries at the heart of humanitarian work.

Empower partner NGOs

He added that the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding communities must also work together, “not one after the other”.

In the meantime, greater action is needed on humanitarian negotiations and access in places like Ethiopia, the Central Sahel, Ukraine and Yemen.

The humanitarian sector must also anticipate as much as possible, he continued, stressing the importance of preparation.

“In the event of natural disasters, we have opportunities to be better prepared to put in place the aid, to preserve the assets in the event of a crisis, and we must do it more frequently, more reliably, and once again , together with the communities that will be affected”.

Finally, the UN humanitarian chief insisted that local non-governmental organisations, civil society and aid agencies on the ground must be given a greater role in the humanitarian space.

“They see the suffering every day. They know what is needed to make a real difference,” he said. “We need to empower them, we need to bring them closer to our councils, and we need to support them in their efforts and in their desire to expand their reach.”

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