“We need better understanding of the humanitarian impacts of climate change and prepare for the ever-growing threats that the crisis will bring. This spirit of cooperation is much needed to overcome the massive challenges ahead of us.” Lastly, the UN relief chief insisted that local non-governmental organizations, civil society and aid agencies on the ground must be given a bigger role in the humanitarian space.
“We need to preserve the humanitarian space and work to ensure that people in situations of vulnerability receive the assistance they need,” he added.
Preparation is vital
“The constraints to humanitarian access continue to prevent affected people from receiving life-saving assistance. Too often humanitarian personnel are harassed, threatened and even killed,” he said.
Collectively, UN humanitarian appeals this year total billion. “We usually receive just over half of that,” he said.
“They see suffering every single day. They know what’s needed to make a real difference, and they are our messengers, as well as our advocates, as well as our deliverers,” he said.
“With your ongoing support and commitments, not only can we strengthen humanitarian assistance but protect the lives of the many selfless humanitarian workers in the field,” he said.
Like the Secretary-General, he also called for putting the needs and priorities of beneficiaries at the heart of humanitarian work, “not just to listen to them, but to be instructed by them.”
Step up funding
In his remarks, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted how UN humanitarian agencies and their partners are taking action every day to support people in need.
The UN chief also reported that a humanitarian appeal for Ukraine now stands at 70 per cent funded, but needs are rising rapidly across the world.
“Humanitarian aid relief and assistance are already at the forefront of climate emergencies. We must diversify humanitarian assistance, in a manner that brings in the expertise and skills of local communities,” he said.
Strengthening humanitarian assistance must be synonymous with preventing humanitarian crises, the President of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, told attendees.
Protect humanitarian workers
ECOSOC President Collen Kelapile recalled that the world is witnessing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, and disregard of international humanitarian law remains a significant concern.
Mr. Griffiths called for “shifting tactics”, starting with making surplus food stocks available and removing blockages to the trade in food and fertilizer.
The three-day ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) brings together UN agencies, diplomats, aid workers, the private sector and other partners, to discuss current and emerging challenges, as well as priorities, and to share experiences and lessons learned.
UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths warned that the “global megacrises” today are growing at a speed and scale that threaten to undo decades of hard-won progress in development, governance and social protection.
“We need to empower them, we need to bring them closer into our councils, and we need to support them in their efforts and in their desire to extend their reach.”
To respond, he called for stepping up both sustainable solutions and financial support, aiding pandemic recovery in every country, and protecting the future by limiting global warming.
Empower NGO partners
“These challenges require us to step up our efforts to support a strong, flexible, well-resourced humanitarian system that is better equipped to reach and protect even the most isolated and marginalized people,” he said in a video message to the meeting.
Meanwhile, greater action is needed on humanitarian negotiations and access in places like Ethiopia, the Central Sahel, Ukraine and Yemen.
Mr. Shahid also focused on the dangers humanitarians face in delivering aid, adding that more must be done to ensure their safety.
Mr. Guterres advocated for a humanitarian system centred around people’s needs, among other attributes, and which supports local partners on the front lines, especially women and women’s organizations.
“In the case of natural disasters, we have opportunities to be better prepared to put aid in place, to preserve assets in case of crisis, and we need to this more frequently, more reliably, and again, in concert with communities that will be hit.”
Mr. Kelapile urged participants to learn from the pandemic to adapt their work and better prepare for future crises. He also called for greater accountability and strengthening respect for international humanitarian law.
The humanitarian sector must be as anticipatory as possible, he continued, stressing the importance of preparation.