ECOSOC ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON STRENGTHENING COORDINATION OF EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Holds Panel on Strengthening Preparedness and Capacities for Humanitarian Response and Special Event on Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa
21 July 2011
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today concluded its Humanitarian Activities Segment after adopting a resolution on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. The Council also held a panel discussion on strengthening resilience, preparedness and capacities for humanitarian response; a special event on the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa; and concluded its general discussion on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
The resolution on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations called upon enhancing accountability, further strengthening humanitarian response efforts, including through monitoring and evaluating the provision of their humanitarian assistance, and incorporating lessons learned and consulting with the affected populations so that their needs are appropriately addressed. It also reaffirmed the importance of upholding international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles and requested the Secretary-General to reflect the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the present resolution in his next report to the Council and the General Assembly on the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.
Before the resolution was adopted, the Council concluded its general discussion on special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance after hearing statements by UN-HABITAT, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund. Colombia spoke after the resolution was adopted.
This morning, the Council held a panel discussion on strengthening resilience, preparedness and capacities for humanitarian response.
Jan Grauls, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in opening remarks, said that the international community needed to come together in partnership to ensure that national governments and local communities were prepared to respond to humanitarian needs wherever these occurred. Furthermore, requirements for emergency response preparedness were likely to increase as global risks and trends continued to exacerbate vulnerability.
Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that preparedness saved lives and was cost effective. It was important to recognize that the first line of response in cases of emergency often were local communities and national authorities. The international community should be more focused in the coordination of its efforts since responsibility rested in so many different places.
Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, said the panel was taking place as a dire drought was ongoing in the Horn of Africa. It was absolutely essential to learn from each other as to how to strengthen communities and enhance preparedness so that when disaster hit, the international community was prepared and had enough resources to respond.
Matthias Schmale, Under-Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that the current crisis in the Horn of Africa underlined the importance of longer term investments in preparedness and resilience. This discussion should not exclusively focus on improving responses to current crises but should address longer term systemic issues.
Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, and Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, said there was a link between disaster and conflict. Climate change was going to impact the occurrence of disasters. Local authorities had to have the capacity to respond. States with modest resources should know that resources were necessary for building preparedness.
Laurent Thomas, Assistant Secretary-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that emergencies represented only the tip of the iceberg concerning risks and needs faced by vulnerable populations. The Food and Agriculture Organization was moving towards a disaster risk management approach that bridged the humanitarian and development divide to include preparedness for disasters and transition into development.
Zoubida Allaoua, Director, Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, World Bank, said the World Bank brought people together around knowledge concerning disaster preparedness and risk prevention, and consequently demonstrated how prevention paid. Prevention and preparedness were about building the institutions that created jobs, economic growth and robust institutions and thereby, generated resilience.
In the question and answer session, speakers indicated that the changing nature of the climate had resulted in the changing scale and nature of disasters in different parts of the world. There had been exponential growth in global humanitarian needs and the number of humanitarian sectors. Lack of capacity had long constrained developing countries in conducting relief and recovery work. Investing in resilience and prevention was necessary to build dignity and save lives in the long term. Preparedness was interdisciplinary and common needs assessments were a start, but only a start; assessments needed to address a whole range of topics. Political backing and support was necessary. While the primary responsibility for disaster resilience rested with States, the international community, non-governmental organizations and other partners had a role to play in supporting these efforts.
Representatives of Argentina, Chile, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, the European Union, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, China, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Finland, the Netherlands, Algeria and Haiti spoke in the question and answer session.
This afternoon, ECOSOCO held a special event on the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa.
Mr. Grauls, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that over the past days everyone had followed the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. In light of such an exceptional and dramatic situation, it would have been unthinkable that the humanitarian segment of the Council did not pay special attention to the crisis.
Ms. Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, said the day before, the United Nations had declared a famine in two regions of Somalia. Tens of thousands of people had already died and hundreds of thousand more were starving. This was the gravest food crisis in the world and the numbers were getting worse. Some $ 1.9 billion had been asked for to help people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Of this, less than half had been funded, leaving a gap of over $ 1 billion.
Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that since the beginning of the year, large numbers of Somalis had crossed the borders into Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, and thousands more continued to leave the country. The open door and open heart policy of neighboring countries, including Djibouti and Yemen, despite their own challenges and difficulties, was commendable. The international community should mobilize support of these countries and contribute both to the current needs but also in order to avoid further crises in the near future.
Cheik Diarra, Special Advisor on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said drought was a fact of life in the Horn of Africa. Aid experts said the greatest tragedy was that the early warning system had indicated the threat of a crisis long before, but appeals had not been met in a timely and adequate manner. The total humanitarian need amounted to $ 1.87 billion, but aid allocation was much lower.
Ms. Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, said the European Commission had contributed 70 million Euro to the Horn of Africa region affected by the drought, with a particular emphasis on Somalia. The spillover in neighbouring countries could already be seen. Assistance should also be provided to neighboring countries which had shown their generosity by welcoming Somali refugees fleeing the crisis despite their own challenges.
Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, the World Food Programme, Djibouti, Belgium, Norway, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, and the Food and Agriculture Organization took the floor after the presentations.
ECOSOC will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 22 July to begin its General Segment and consider the implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits and the review and coordination of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010.
Panel discussion on “Strengthening resilience, preparedness and capacities for humanitarian response”
JAN GRAULS, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the fact that Member States had chosen the topic of the panel was testimony to the renewed affirmation that the international community needed to come together in partnership to ensure that national governments and local communities were prepared to respond to humanitarian needs wherever these occurred. The Secretary-General in his report underlined that preparedness for emergency response saved lives when disasters occurred because it permitted faster scaling-up of an effective, principled and coordinated humanitarian response at the local, national and international levels. Furthermore, requirements for emergency response preparedness were likely to increase as global risks and trends continued to exacerbate vulnerability. The distinguished panellists would help the Council to better understand the different roles and responsibilities of humanitarian actors in preparedness. They would outline ways to strengthen partnerships in order to improve the international communities’ collective efforts to strengthen national and local response capacities.
VALERIE AMOS, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, moderator of the panel discussion, said that preparedness saved lives and was cost effective. Moreover, it was important to recognize that the first line of response in cases of emergency often were local communities and national authorities. The international community should be more focused in the coordination of its efforts since responsibility rested in so many different places.
Statements by the Panellists
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, European Union, said the panel was taking place as a dire drought was ongoing in the Horn of Africa. Famine was threatening millions of lives in Somalia. If action was not taken today in full force, the crisis could move to other parts of the region. It was the most dramatic crisis today, but it was one of many. In 18 months, Ms. Georgieva said she had seen every imaginable disaster. No nation or community was exempt from these disasters. Europe had lost 100,000 people and 50 billion Euros to natural disasters in the last 10 years. Conflicts had hit people hard and weakened societies. It was absolutely essential to learn from each other as to how to strengthen communities and enhance preparedness so that when disaster hit, the international community was prepared and had enough resources to respond. The best way to be prepared was by investing in development. Earthquakes in Chile and Haiti had demonstrated this. The earthquake in Chile was five times stronger, but deaths amounted only to 500 people, compared to 500,000 in Haiti. Investments in development, and factors that enhanced resilience, such as forest cover, contributed to this outcome.
It was necessary to better direct development finance to build resilience at the local, regional and national levels. Today it was also important to invest in understanding risks. Thirty countries were the most disaster prone and there was no excuse for not investing in resilience in these countries. The link between investing in responses and investing in development should be enhanced. Ms. Georgieva said she was bringing the humanitarian community to meet with development colleagues at the World Bank and other international finance institutions. The commission had decided to systematically invest in preparedness at the local level. This could bring down the cost of humanitarian aid. In disaster-prone areas, all programmes should help to build resilience. Money was not enough, however. The capacity to respond was vital. Partnerships and people ready to respond at the local level were needed. When thinking of European humanitarian aid, it was important to think of the many people who risked their lives to make a difference in humanitarian situations.
MATTHIAS SCHMALLE, Under-Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that the current crisis in the Horn of Africa underlined the importance of longer term investments in preparedness and resilience, and while the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement had opened appeals for Ethiopia and Kenya they were unfortunately underfunded. It was important to look beyond. This discussion could not be seen to be about improving responses to current crises but it concerned addressing longer term systemic issues; for example the fact that a billion people went to bed each night hungry and malnourished while there was enough food for everyone in the world. Livelihood protection and recovery work was also an important focus of the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s humanitarian and development work. Local action and working at scale with the often forgotten high-risk people and communities was the real test for all. Technology contributed to better responses, preparedness and investment in resilience work.
It was important to look beyond natural disasters in terms of having risks that caused vulnerability; for instance ongoing epidemics such as HIV, emerging infectious diseases and zoonotic diseases should be considered with care, and adopting well coordinated and interdisciplinary mechanisms to make the world a safer place was needed. The road crash crisis killed and injured people on the same scale as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; and 85 per cent of the 3,000 deaths every day occurred in low and middle income countries. Greater predictability and efficiency in humanitarian financing were needed, some international mechanisms such as the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund and the Central Emergency Response Fund existed at the international level but similar mechanisms should be found to address capacity building and resilience at the local level. Concerning partnerships it was important to look beyond the humanitarian and development communities and host governments should be put back in the centre of the work underway.
JORDAN RYAN, Assistant Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, said he would discuss issues from the development side of international assistance. The chairs of development groups and humanitarian institutions had been working together to bring Resident Coordinators together on the issue. All Resident Coordinators had been in a global meeting on the issue in recent months. There was a link between disaster and conflict. Climate change was going to impact the occurrence of disasters. Local authorities had to have the capacity to respond. The United Nations Country Teams needed to increasingly be on the front line. Mr. Ryan said he would speak about how Member States could help the United Nations, as to what could be done and done better to make things work.
Regarding the Hyogo Framework, disaster risk education had to be a national and local priority. If local actors were engaged, then preparedness would be on the ground at the local level. This took capacity. To ensure embracing community organizations, partnerships were required. As a Resident Coordinator, the first lesson learned was if Resident Coordinators were not working with the Red Cross, they not working with the people in the field. If Resident Coordinators were not working at the local level, they were not working with those who would get things done. If they were not working with national actors, capacity was not being built. Partnerships were of vital importance. States with modest resources should know that resources were necessary for building preparedness. In addition to working with partners from the field and community groups, working with women’s groups and youth was a key way to energize communities. It was important to have a dramatic reduction of loss of life and acquire assets to be prepared for early recovery. The way to do that was to work together in countries with local, national and international partners. It was not about working only with disaster ministers, but also finance ministers, prime ministers and other key players.
LAURENT THOMAS, Assistant Secretary-General, Food and Agriculture Organization, said that emergencies represented only the tip of the iceberg concerning risks and needs faced by vulnerable populations. Talking about preparedness, he said it was their duty to change the approach and address the needs of 450 million people that lived in protracted crisis situations. The Food and Agriculture Organization was moving towards a disaster risk management approach that bridged the humanitarian and development divide to include preparedness for disasters and transition into development. It was also supporting policy and institutional capacity development, early warning systems, through to development of people’s capacity to improve yields, water shed management and increased food production, in order to better manage current and future crises. A farming family facing the cyclical “la Nina” drought in the Horn of Africa needed social safety nets such as food assistance and social security when crops failed, but also government support to mitigate price fluctuations, support to adapt and diversify household livelihoods, technical knowledge to plant more resilient crops and a better understanding of and access to markets.
The Food and Agriculture Organization and partners had sought approaches that addressed immediate needs and helped people in building resilient livelihoods, yet overall funding levels for preparedness remained low. In the past the international community spoke of capacity building as an exogenous or often top-down system of transfer of knowledge, but it was now clear that the best approaches to strengthen resilience were found at the national level within national institutions and within communities. Building on and supporting local institutions could provide a sustainable basis for addressing drivers of the crisis and for rebuilding livelihoods after the crisis. The current aid architecture was ill suited for funding extended responses for those crises which had longer-term duration and required sustained external support, particularly when responses should be based on preparedness and disaster risk reduction. The question was what could be done to enable communities and ensure their leaders and governments were better prepared for crisis; from what pocket of funding the money came from was unimportant to recipients. The Food and Agriculture Organization was bringing in technical knowledge to better prepare and support local communities and bridge the divide between humanitarian and development interventions and called on governments and donors to support greater collaboration and coordination and to hold it accountable during this process.
ZOUBIDA ALLAOUA, Director of Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, World Bank, said the World Bank brought people together around knowledge concerning disaster preparedness and risk prevention, and consequently demonstrated how prevention paid. The World Development Reports brought attention to development investments and disaster preparedness. This helped to shape the debate in the World Bank and with its partners about the importance of prevention and development. Developing current understanding, frameworks and standards were important to assessing impacts and measuring performance. This was a priority for the World Bank in convening with partners on knowledge management and generation.
The World Bank was also mobilizing financing to support this work and to invest in preparedness. Cities were a priority as well. The World Bank had convened more than one hundred cities to discuss the various challenges specific to managing urban areas. Mayors from Chicago, Sao Palo, Mexico City and Dar es Salaam got together after the fifteenth Conference of Parties in Copenhagen to compile a study on issues related to climate change, cities and disaster prevention. A task force on climate change disaster risk management and the poor had been created. The urban poor were particularly vulnerable because they lived in risk-prone areas with little infrastructure and did not have sufficient access to health and sanitation services. The World Bank was facilitated south-south dialogue and local and national governments, private sector, non-government organizations, academia and civil society were being mobilized to exchange lessons learned and best practices. Prevention and preparedness were about building the institutions that created jobs, economic growth and robust institutions and thereby, generated resilience. It was important to convene policy-makers around the table and ensure they learned from each other, but resources were needed to build these capabilities as well. The World Bank was helping cities to access development funding and benefit from trust funds.
In the question-and-answer session, speakers said the changing nature of the climate had resulted in the changing scale and nature of disasters in different parts of the world. There had been exponential growth in global humanitarian needs and the number of humanitarian sectors. Lack of capacity had long constrained developing countries in conducting relief and recovery work. Investing in resilience and prevention was necessary to build dignity and save lives in the long term. Speakers asked how a definition of resilience could be established, which could better focus efforts and strengthen linkages between humanitarian and development work. Preparedness was interdisciplinary and common needs assessments were a start, but only a start; assessments needed to address a whole range of topics. Speakers expressed their commitment to investing in preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience, but also expressed the need to invest in development. They asked how humanitarian actors could better support resilience and preparedness measures in all types of situations. Political backing and support was necessary. It was heartening to witness the efforts of the United Nations to strengthen response and prevention capacities at the international, national and local levels. Speakers asked to know more about integrating preparedness into existing activities and programmes of United Nations funds and agencies.
The primary responsibility for disaster resilience rested with States, although the international community, non-governmental organizations and other partners had a role to play in supporting these efforts. Speakers acknowledged the importance of regional and sub-regional groups in preventing disasters, enhancing preparedness and executing disaster response on the ground. The top-down approach suffered from severe shortcomings when it came to dealing with local communities. In order to be effective, national and international response capacities should be reinforced. New areas had been created for dialogue and sharing best practices on disaster reduction and prevention. Inter-institutional bodes were required at the local, national, regional and international levels, which should involve the private sector. Local actors were on the front line when disasters struck. Speakers asked what potential panellists saw for international actors to engage further with local actors. They asked if it was possible to identify priorities for responding to large-scale disasters. Good governance also had a part to play in ensuring disaster prevention, preparedness and risk reduction. Speakers asked for panellists’ views on any correlation between disaster response and preparedness and weak or non-existing governance.
Dialogue between the development community and humanitarian community was fundamental. The roles and responsibilities of the many actors involved needed to be better clarified to avoid duplication. Solid communications channels between the government and international partners needed to be established before disasters. At the multilateral and international level, more could be done to launch a movement to invest more in prevention and preparedness. Speakers asked whether enough had been done to assure everyone worked together. The division of labour sometimes became unclear, although coordination had been strong in some cases. Speakers asked what an ideal division of labour among the various actors would look like. In order to prevent duplication of efforts, mapping of current work was important and thus, speakers asked whether there was any work attributed to mapping humanitarian assistance efforts. Evidence-based preparedness should be pursued. The media played an important role in mobilizing public opinion. Speakers asked whether organizations were willing to work more with the media to engage public opinion in first stages of a crisis. The issues discussed today tended to get stuck in the humanitarian department, but this required consistent awareness-raising.
Mechanisms and modalities that were innovative for financing were important, as were the involvement of traditional and emerging donors. The private sector should be involved as well. Creative, innovate and bolder action was required. Gaps in terms of processes and capacities needed to be addressed. Speakers agreed that more investment and more innovative approaches were needed, but asked to know more about methodologies for tracking finance. There was a need for a more flexible approach for funding and recognition of the role of development actors. More south-south cooperation was required as well. Speakers asked how disaster prevention and preparedness perspectives could be integrated into investments by foreign investors.
Argentina, Chile, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, the European Union, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, China, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Finland, the Netherlands, Algeria and Haiti took the floor in the question-and-answer session.
Responses and Concluding Remarks by the Panellists
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, concerning the importance of inclusive approaches, underlined the need for joint contributions by all stakeholders in order to learn lessons and achieve solutions and to understand the contributions that each actor could make in order to built on this. Ms Georgieva, emphasized the importance of including women in the process of finding solutions in the preparedness and response phase. Recalling the drought in Sub-Saharan Africa last year, Ms. Georgieva noted that the European Union implemented a programme for distributing resources through women. Women play a critical role in reaching the most vulnerable and were important in playing leadership roles but also in the implementation of local solutions. Concerning technology, Ms. Georgieva argued that technology should be thought of in a more traditional way and indicated the use of radios in the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile. Learning lessons at a local and community level was crucial, as well as ensuring that these lessons were amplified and learning how to improve preparedness for these matters; these lessons should be shared.
MATTHIAS SCHMALE, Under-Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, noted the comment by Argentina that all actors should be involved and that it was necessary to move away from the passive role of recipient countries or top-down approaches. There was an appeal to donors to change their architecture; this was not only about volume and funding available but about counting with the appropriate architecture to make effective contributions and move beyond the dichotomy between humanitarian and development assistance.
JORDAN RYAN, Assistant Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, and Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, concerning issues of preparedness and financing, noted the need to integrate issues of preparedness in programmatic work. Working on risk assessment, documenting disaster issues and working with country teams and the Food and Agriculture Organization and local representatives of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs were important to ensure that these factors were included in development plans. It was important to have a dialogue with the different ministries and national actors, including the legislature, to ensure that budget allocations were made. The main responsibility lay with the national authorities. Resident Coordinators were highly competitive and best practices were usually shared among them. In Nepal the Resident Coordinator had been successful in bringing together a number of actors and had coordinated the establishment of a consortium to look at a comprehensive risk reduction strategy, plans, exercises, and readiness for the possibility of a major disaster in the Kathmandu valley. If there were more resources available, much more could be achieved. China, Cuba, Mexico and Viet Nam, for instance, were involved in risk reduction initiatives. Concerning the mapping issue raised by Japan, there were United Nations Development Programme based exercises to map and look at strengths and gaps. Mr. Ryan agreed that development actors needed to be prepared. Humanitarian actors reacted to disasters. The partnership between civilian and military actors would lead to a partnership that saved lives much more rapidly.
LAURENT THOMAS, Assistant Secretary-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, concerning the issue of mapping, indicated that the Inter-Agency Standing Committee had decided to establish a task force to look at this issue, evaluating the situation of expenditure in humanitarian financings and gaps in the work on preparedness; a report should be prepared at the end of July, concerning the level of resources. Not surprisingly, preliminary results were not very positive and showed that only a minimal fraction of assistance provided was being invested in preparedness. Regional orientation was very important, leading assessment and responses, and it was important to ensure they were empowered and supported.
ZOUBIDA ALLAOUA, Director, Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, World Bank, concerning the issue of tracking financing, said that there were several mechanisms being developed and that would be soon publicized by the World Bank. Concerning the private sector, it was not only key to develop institutions and partnerships, but also indicators and monitoring mechanisms were needed. A sustainability framework and code of conduct had just been developed by the Bank. In the previous meeting in Rio a window was articulated to develop partnership, a joint programme with the United Nations Environment Programme and UN HABITAT to develop indicators for cities. There were other initiatives aimed at developing local technologies and bringing energy and creativity to work on disaster management techniques and early warning systems.
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, said that there was a long way to go in order to understand funding thoroughly, particularly concerning early warning systems and support for agencies. Further work on methodology was needed in the context of increased finance for adaptation in order to have a better picture of what was achieved and where the remaining gaps were.
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, said there was a significant body of knowledge on what constituted work on resilience and referred back to the work of the World Bank on definitions and accounting mechanisms. The main problem was that while the humanitarian side had the advantage of speed, its resources were only for live-saving activities and had limited capacity to contribute to building resilience; on the other hand, development agencies had resources but were slow. There was a need to create funding mechanisms which matched the speed of humanitarian work and thus allowed for their experience on humanitarian action to be translated into effective achievements on building resilience. Concerning the media, Ms. Georgieva noted that preparedness did not capture attention and wondered whether any measures could be taken in this regard.
MATTHIAS SCHMALE, Under-Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, concerning the question of what constituted preparedness, underlined that available human resources at the right place and the right time were a crucial component of readiness for responding to disasters. Moreover, it was important to improve coordination mechanisms. There was a strong desire to learn lessons from experiences in Haiti and Pakistan among international actors. The international community should further engage with local communities. It was important to work with governments in order to create conducive environments for local actors and, in this context, transparency and legislation were important aspects. The upcoming conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement would address the issues of enabling national legislation.
LAURENT THOMAS, Assistant Secretary-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said the question of loss of resilience was pertinent. If resilience was to be strengthened, knowing that people were pastoralists and farmers was important. Food assistance was then required first and foremost. Providing the population with cash to access food and with work-for-food activities also were vital actions. Most importantly, the population had to be able to plant and thereby increase the availability of food. Also, since many people were pastoralists, food for cattle, water and vaccines for animals were required so that animals were not lost. This protected the livelihoods and survival strategies of the population.
ZOUBIDA ALLAOUA, Director, Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, World Bank, said a book recently produced by the World Bank on disaster prevention and preparedness contained two chapters focused on new methodologies for disaster needs assessment and country assistance strategies. At the country level, these methodologies could help to avoid double-counting. Prevention was not attractive for donors. Donors also sometimes said they would not be disbursing funds for disaster relief because they supported long-term development activities. This was a dilemma that could be resolved by discussion with partners. Regarding the flexibility of funding, the disaster response window had been created and was made available for assuring flexibility in responding to the disaster relief needs of the poorest countries. Risk insurance elements had been developed in Costa Rica, for example, which had also been able to access a credit line for rapid response during disasters.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, concerning the need to include national actors, said that much more needed to be done. Concerning the division of labour between United Nations agencies and partners this was an area in which the Inter-Agency Standing Committee was working. There was a pilot programme implemented in four countries concerning the establishment of a framework and delineation of responsibilities and she hoped that this would give some pointers on how to do further work in a more integrated way.
ZOUBIDA ALLAOUA, Director, Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, World Bank, said that agencies and constituencies were demanding action from public officials concerning the improvement of accountability and transparency of assistance delivery. For this reason indicators and measurements were crucial, for they equally contributed to risk management as measuring performance; and there was significant progress on this issue. The World Bank had actively participated in the global conference on reconstruction organized as part of the meeting of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Finally, Ms. Allaoua reiterated the importance of establishing a framework and responsibilities for the World Bank and bilateral donors as well as for United Nations agencies.
Laurent Thomas, Assistant Secretary-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, underlined the importance of translating words into actions and addressing governance issues. In the Food and Agriculture Organization, a new strategic framework included the provision of strategic support to partners and members countries to prepare and respond to agriculture emergencies. This was made clear during a recent regional conference, where members expressed this was a priority for the organization. Mr. Thomas recognized the decisions of Ethiopia and other countries to make risk reduction and agriculture governmental priorities and stressed that investments in food security were good humanitarian and development investments for the future.
JORDAN RYAN, Assistance Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, and Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, said, in regards to governance, strong responses often relied on strong political will, openness, transparency and engaging with local citizens. From the United Nations Development Programme’s perspective, recent meetings with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction had been important for enhancing efforts on disaster preparedness. The United Nations Development Programme was working at the national level in building the strength of national and local response capacities. Closer collaboration with governments and other groups was important for enhancing resilience. Resilience meant that no person was subject to the whims and beggaries of disasters which would affect the possibility of their living a decent life.
MATTIAS SCHMALE, Under-Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said if the international community was serious about committing to local action, then it needed to start there with national and local vulnerability assessments. Inputs needed to be coordinated at the local level. International forces needed to be driven by national and local efforts for planning and coordination.
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, said that there was remarkable consistency across the panel and the audience on what needed to be done and the urgency to do so, and suggested it was time to take concrete action. The world today was much wealthier, but also fragile. Wealth was unevenly distributed and not necessarily best deployed for addressing future concerns. In order to move forward on the issues of disaster preparedness and risk reduction, despite time pressures, it was possible to achieve positive results on the basis of joint efforts.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that the upcoming Busan meeting would provide an important opportunity to follow up on this discussion. It was important to get on in making a difference with actions on the ground and this was an important message to take away from this discussion.
Special Event on the Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa
JAN GRAULS, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that over the past days everyone had been following the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. The number of affected people in the region was very high and the situation of the affected people was extremely dire. Yesterday the United Nations had declared that famine existed in two regions of southern Somalia. In light of such an exceptional and dramatic situation, it would have been unthinkable that the Humanitarian Activities Segment of the Council did not pay special attention to the crisis. As so many high-level representatives and decision makers were present during the debates, the Council would like to benefit from their presence to be directly informed on their assessment of the humanitarian situation and the most appropriate ways to address the humanitarian needs; the panellists were thanked for their availability and participation.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the day before, the United Nations had declared a famine in two regions of Somalia. Tens of thousands of people had already died and hundreds of thousands more were starving. If nothing was done, the famine would spread to the rest of south Somalia within two months, and its effects could spill over to countries across the region. Famine was not a word to be used lightly. Famine reflected extreme food shortages, severe malnutrition on a massive scale and spiraling mortality. It was necessary to respond before thousands lost their lives. Across the Horn of Africa, 11.5 million people were in urgent need of help. This was the gravest food crisis in the world and the numbers were getting worse. Some $1.9 billion had been asked for to help people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Of this, less than half had been funded, leaving a gap of over $1 billion. The funding gaps needed to be filled now. Ms. Amos called on all of the donors to give generously. Many had already announced the disbursement of additional resources, but Ms. Amos hoped they could do more. This would not be a short crisis. The United Nations and its partners fully expected to be dealing with the situation for at least the next six months. Assistance to people in their own countries and to the increasing number of refugees needed to be stepped up. Many Somalis had walked for weeks, in grueling conditions, to get to the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya. This camp, already the largest camp in the world, was dangerously over-crowded with more than 380,000 refugees and faced a backlog of 26,000 awaiting registration. Ms. Amos thanked both Kenya and Ethiopia for keeping their borders open. Humanitarian agencies were responding as best they could. The entire United Nations system was pulling together, acting in concert.
The situation in Somalia was particularly difficult, Ms. Amos said. Persistent insecurity and major reductions in food aid had severely constrained capacity to respond. The recent announcement by Al-Shabaab that they would open areas under their control to the humanitarian community was welcome. But guarantees were needed that humanitarian workers would not be targeted. If the guarantees were given, Member States should find all ways possible to provide the assistance needed. Drought was not a new problem in the Horn of Africa, but it was happening more often. Once-a-decade crises were now occurring every two years. As global attention focused upon the region, many were asking why more had not been done to pre-empt this crisis, to build resilience, to put in place the resources needed and set agriculture and livestock management on a stronger footing. The humanitarian community had been preparing for this situation and had helped build resilience through long-running projects. The current situation would have been worse if significant gains had not been made in the past. Efforts to address the underlying cause of fragility and to do more to prepare what would inevitably happen again were needed. There were no easy answers. Declining rainfall, increasing populations, environmental degradation and persistent conflict were prevalent in the region. Peace in Somalia had eluded the international community for two decades. It this situation was to be prevented from becoming an annual event, there were things that could be done. Practical interventions, like drought-resistant seeds, irrigation, rural infrastructure, livestock programmes, could and did work. Improvements in early warning systems had been achieved. It had been known that the drought was coming and warnings were issued last November. Looking ahead, those warnings had to be heeded in time in the future. The priority today, however, was to save lives.
ANTONIO MANUEL DE OLIVEIRA GUTERRES, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that there were three dimensions of the current situation, a refugee crisis, a crisis of Somalia and a regional drought crisis. The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees was involved in addressing the first crisis. The Somali population was often victim of marginalization and discrimination. Asylum and protection should be granted to Somali refugees and stigmatization and discrimination should be avoided. Many thousands of Somali refugees, one fourth of the total population, was currently displaced and this illustrated the suffering and difficulties faced. Since the beginning of the year large numbers of Somalis had crossed the borders into Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti and thousands more continued to leave the country. The open door and open heart policy of neighboring countries, including Djibouti and Yemen, despite their own challenges and difficulties, was commendable. This generosity must be acknowledged by the international community; in particular, the implications for society, the economy and security considerations. Mr. Guterres appealed for solidarity and hoped similar open door and open heart policies would be implemented around the world wherever refugees sought protection. Refugees were facing desperate situations and acute and severe malnutrition. The referent levels of malnutrition in some of the camps were found to be several times higher than the average in Africa. It was absolutely crucial to have massive humanitarian aid delivered inside Somalia. Seeing the urgent and desperate need of many of the people seeking to flee Somalia, it was a crime not to attempt to offer assistance. International organizations, donors and humanitarian organizations should do all in their power to address this crisis and minimize its impact on the population. Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, while providing a generous response, were themselves suffering from the impact of the drought on their populations. The international community should mobilize support for these countries and contribute both to the current needs but also in order to avoid further crises in the near future.
CHEIK DIARRA, Special Advisor on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the topic of the special event on the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa was timely and pertinent. This made the Economic and Social Council even more relevant in the eyes of the public it served. A famine had been declared in certain regions of Somalia; however, people throughout the region were affected, including two million children. Some had drawn parallels with the 1984 famine which had resulted in over a million deaths. The neighboring countries were struggling to keep up with an exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from Somalia. And the situation was worsening. Each hour brought appalling news. Drought was a fact of life in the Horn of Africa. Climate experts said dry seasons were getting longer and affecting more areas. Consecutive crop failure was the immediate concern, and had been aggravated by the prolonged conflict in Somalia. Other issues had further intensified the situation. Many people had received little help since the drought started last year. The international community needed to act decisively and swiftly before the famine spread farther. Short-term and long-term measures needed to be taken. Aid experts said the greatest tragedy was that the early warning system had indicated the threat of a crisis long before, but appeals had not been met in a timely and adequate manner. The total humanitarian need amounted to $ 1.87 billion, but aid allocation was much lower. Another $ 1 billion was needed. The Secretary-General had appealed to donors to dig deep to prevent wide-scale deaths. Only aid was not enough. Access to food, water, shelter, medicine and medical services was vital as well, and the humanitarian community should do its utmost to facilitate access. Some parts of the region were difficult to access and special measures were required.
Mr. Diarra lauded the efforts of the World Food Programme to airlift high-energy biscuits to particularly hard-to-reach and vulnerable areas. Coordination and coherence under the auspices of the United Nations was needed in responding to the crisis, which would yield better results. Taking long-term measures to respond to the causes of crises would prevent them from happing again. Extending support to long-term recovery, including health, education and disaster risk reduction would enhance resilience and recovery. The international comity should support early warning systems and corresponding mechanisms to respond to outbreak in a comprehensive manner in the future. Neighboring countries also could not be forgotten since they were on the frontlines in the emergency. Mr. Diarra urged all parties to work immediately to minimize the consequences of the crisis.
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, recognized the work of the United Nations based on data to create a sense of urgency and said that extraordinary circumstances required extraordinary action. Europe had always stood by affected people in times of need, such as in the case of Pakistan, and was ready to do it again in future cases of natural disasters and conflict. The European Commission had contributed 70 million euro to the region affected by drought, with a particular emphasis on Somalia. The Minister for Development Cooperation of the United Kingdom recently visited the region and pledged a contribution of over £40 million. On Monday the working group on humanitarian affairs of the European Council held an emergency meeting and engaged with other stakeholders, in order to provide assistance in a coordinated manner and ensure a timely and effective delivery. In the case of Somalia, the population had been particularly affected by protracted conflict and the limited capacity of organizations to provide assistance. Ms. Georgieva noted that in Al-Shabaab controlled areas the commitments to allow for assistance delivery were being honoured. The challenge was not only to contribute with money, but by bringing capabilities and human resources. The spillover in neighboring countries could already be seen. Assistance should also be provided to neighboring countries which had shown their generosity by welcoming Somali refugees fleeing the crisis despite their own challenges. This emergency might provide an opportunity to the international community to develop better working modalities and effective measures to ensure that should another drought take place its impact would be smaller.
MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN (Ethiopia) thanked donors for their generous support and humanitarian efforts. Some substantial requirements had been presented for the second-half of 2012 in a document endorsed by regional States and produced by a multi-agency assessment. Water, education, agriculture and other sectors were focused on in the report. Currently, the Government was providing food assistance, including supplementary food centres, and supplementary assistance in terms of health services and support for livestock. The Government of Ethiopia would redouble its efforts to address vulnerabilities, build sufficient resilience in communities, enhance risk management and mitigate impacts. The Government was tirelessly working to deliver on food security by implementing a five-year growth and development plan. Some interventions and investments were directed to pastoral and agricultural needs. Ten per cent of the Government’s budget was allocated to addressing agricultural needs. The plight of the people of Somalia was great and immediate assistance was required. The opening of new refugee camps and feeding programmes were well underway. Ethiopia intended to continue accepting people from Somalia and would do its best to meet their needs.
YUSUF MOHAMED ISMAIL (Somalia) said Somalia needed immense humanitarian assistance. Somalia was incredibly grateful to the countries of the region and others which had come out to support it in these difficult times. Mothers were sending their children to bed without food. Men were humiliated by not being able to provide for their families. This affected not just the poor but a big segment of the population. Since the fall of the last functioning government in 1991, access to water, food, infrastructure, shelter and health services had been limited, and affected by serious political conflict. It was truly contradictory that Somalia had been in an emergency situation for 20 years. Twenty years and emergency situation should not go together. This had been the story of Somalia. Somalia was a country rich in human and natural resources. It had to be assured that Somalia was not in the same situation in a few years time. Unfortunately, the security situation, particularly in the south, was not likely to get better in the near future. The resilience of the people was likely to continue to precipitously fall. The capacity of the United Nations would not be understood by the ordinary people on the ground. They did not make any distinction between United Nations agencies. The United Nations was seen as a target in political discourse and in military terms. More often than not, humanitarian agencies engaged in the art of prescription. Their flexibility did not extend to outlining responses to problems, resulting in a mix of actions. Donors were driven by internal processes and increasingly, the global agenda. Donors wanted to be assured that funds were not used by terrorists or warlords. Somalia appealed to the international community to provide support for a civilian police corps or military units to provide and secure social aid, humanitarian corridors, and other assistance, while also making use of the private sector. Humanitarian assistance bodies needed to be sure that their programmes could be implemented by local partners with little institutional and infrastructural capacity.
TOM MBOYA OKEYO (Kenya) said that the Horn of Africa was facing the worst drought in 60 years, a situation resulting in a massive influx of refugees into Kenya. The Government had declared a state of emergency and donors had also responded to appeals for assistance. Kenya found itself in a precarious situation in terms of security concerns and the need to welcome refugees in dire need of food. The international community should redouble its efforts in the search for a long-lasting solution to the Somali political crisis. The root causes of this protracted refugee situation needed to be urgently addressed. Kenya could not continue to bear this burden alone as maintaining and providing security for refugees was costly. A distinction should be made between refugees fleeing due to political conflict and those nationals escaping due to hunger. The international community should therefore consider creating a humanitarian safe haven inside Somalia for the provision of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations would need to strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders and especially with the Government as an important mechanism of adapting to the changing world. All United Nations Members States should be involved in assessing the state of the humanitarian system and in mapping out strategies for the future.
The Third Session of the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction highlighted the importance of enhancing preparedness, especially at the local level, and Kenya was working with the United Nations Development Programme on a disaster risk management policy. Kenya urged the international community to engage meaningfully in addressing the situation in the Horn of Africa. Emphasis should be placed on searching for permanent solutions, sustained investment in dry lands, water conservation, investments in livestock industry and extension services for smaller holder agriculture.
PAUL LARSEN, of World Food Programme, said that saving the lives of women and children in Somalia and others hit by the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa must be the highest global humanitarian priority. The World Food Programme had been able to respond rapidly thanks to 2,000 staff on the ground on the basis of the innovative financing and forward food purchasing, logistics and pre-positioning mechanisms, underpinned by flexible and predictable funding provided by multilateral and multi-year donors. Already before this week’s declaration of a famine in Somalia and the dramatic increase in the number of people in urgent need to more than 11 million, the World Food Programme had been providing food and nutrition assistance to 7 million people in the Horn of Africa, including 700,000 Somalis in the refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as more than 1 million people in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia. The World Food Programme thanked its major donors and the United Kingdom for stepping up so strongly to the urgent crisis and to the European Union for providing naval escorts protecting World Food Programme shipments against piracy. Donors’ support was crucial for life-saving nutrition but also for safety-nets, livelihood support, land and water assets creation, and strengthened resilience of vulnerable people to deal with and survive the current shocks.
It was no coincidence that the only areas so far hit by famine were those where the World Food Programme had been barred from operating in southern and central Somalia. Continued support was crucial to succeed in saving millions of people at risk of starvation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa and $ 340 million would be needed for programmes in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Karamoja and Djibouti for the next six months or more if access and security conditions were to allow for operations in south Somalia.
ELAYE YACIN ABDILLAHI (Djibouti) said just like other countries of the region, Djibouti had been facing widespread drought. More than 120,000 people were affected by this calamity. This led to the degradation of nutritional levels and a drastic reduction in water resources and livestock. The President had convened a special meeting on containing the impact of drought. Djibouti asked the international community to provide support to overcoming the consequences of the drought. If nothing was done in the upcoming weeks, a catastrophic situation would emerge. This was something the Government of Djibouti wanted to avoid.
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Union, thanked the countries of the Horn of Africa for pointing to the crisis faced today, but also emphasizing the need to address the underlying causes, support sustainable development and reduce shocks in the future. Ms. Georgieva strongly voiced the support of the European Union to work in the Horn of Africa region to ensure that local communities were better equipped in the future. Ms. Georgieva had heard calls to do more inside Somalia. Parts of the country were not very secure but there were also parts which were secure and had a high capacity to absorb assistance. It was necessary to do what was necessary inside Somalia. The international community needed to do what was necessary to prevent people from walking kilometers to access assistance.
FRANCOIS ROUX (Belgium) said that while citizens of Belgium had been looking with great attention at the formation of a government and the summit of the European Union concerning the financial crisis, this could not lead them to overlook problems in other places. The Council of Ministers had looked at the situation in the Horn of Africa and three million Euros would be provided to the World Food Programme and another one million Euros to the Food and Agriculture Organization in order to respond to this crisis. Coopération belge supported actions at the local level and worked with non-governmental organizations and agencies on the ground. The objective was to take all necessary measures to reduce the effects of the drought and conflict in the area. Belgium had contributed along with the European Union and neighboring countries to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in the area.
KARE STORMARK (Norway) indicated that this session as well as the one dedicated to South Sudan stressed the relevance of the Economic and Social Council. Norway had contributed $ 43 million to humanitarian work and another $ 5.5 million would be channeled through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide assistance in the context of the crisis.
JOHN SAMMIS (United States) acknowledged the importance of this meeting. The United States was the largest bilateral donor in the region and had contributed $ 459 million this year and a further $ 28 million contribution had just been announced by Secretary of State Clinton to address the crisis. The safety and security of humanitarian workers in Somalia continued to be of great concern, particularly whether there were any changes in Al-Shabaab policies allowing humanitarian operations to operate. Finally, the United States requested further elaboration from Mr. Guterres on the estimate that $ 300 million would be required to prevent the humanitarian crises from spilling over the region.
RUTH STONE (Australia) said the Australian Government was seriously concerned about the situation in the Horn of Africa and had immediately responded. Total assistance to the region now amounted to 42 million Australian dollars, and this figure had been recently revised upwards. These funds would be disbursed through United Nations agencies and Australian non-governmental organizations. As part of the package of assistance, Australia would provide support to Save the Children, the Food and Agriculture Organization and others to implement long-term development assistance programmes. Australia would continue to work with partners on the ground and monitor the situation in the Horn of Africa.
ROBERT WHITBY (United Kingdom) said the fact that a famine had been declared in parts of Somalia showed just how dire the situation had become. The United Kingdom had just announced support amounting to £ 52 million. In the Humanitarian Activities Segment, much had been said about how the humanitarian system could work more effectively to save lives. It was time to identify priorities and link responses to local situations. The United Kingdom was currently the largest donor to the region and called on others to make funds available quickly so the response would be immediate, proportionate and effective.
MATHIAS SCHIKORSKI (Germany) said that Africa faced an unprecedented crisis due to the combination of drought and conflict. Germany called upon the international community and the United Nations Member States to provide further resources to address this crisis and called upon all parties to respect international humanitarian law. The focus should be on addressing the needs of people affected by the crisis. Germany appealed to all parties to reduce bureaucratic and other impediments which might slow down the delivery of aid.
JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI (France) said that the Government of France would soon announce its contribution to the countries in the Horn of Africa affected by the crisis. The response should be coordinated, take into account mid-term and long-term responses, and should address the root causes of the crisis. The G20 could play an important role in this regard. The Ministers of the G20 had adopted a plan of action to address the issues of food security, strengthening international cooperation and establishing measures against the volatility of food prices. The ongoing crisis in the Horn of Africa evidenced the urgent need for implementing this plan amidst the possibility of facing further crises in the future.
THOMAS JOHN THOMSEN (Denmark) said Denmark had been providing humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa for many years. Denmark shared the concerns of many and had stepped up efforts to address the crisis. Denmark believed it was time for the international community to step up its efforts and act as one. This was a situation that would require long-term assistance.
DAVID BRUCK (Ireland) said the Government of Ireland had been following the events in the Horn of Africa for many months. As the crisis of deepened, Ireland provided an additional 1 million Euros in July. This amounted to 5 million Euros for water, sanitation, food and other aid in 2011. Former Irish President and High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robison had recently commented after a visit to Somalia that so little had changed in 20 years. Efforts needed to be redoubled to meet the immediate needs and ensure that the underlying issues that had impacted the region over the last decades were addressed.
FEDERICA FAVI (Italy) said that the Horn of Africa had always been one of the priority areas for the provision of humanitarian assistance. Italy was ready to increase its response to the crisis in the region and coordinate with other stakeholders in the provision of assistance.
LAURENT THOMAS (Food and Agriculture Organization) said that east Africa could feed itself and the region had enough resources to provide food through land and fisheries to sustain its population. The vast majority of the population affected by the crisis was made up of farmers, pastors and fishermen. They needed assistance to ensure that their livelihoods were safe. Urgent action should be taken to ensure that farmers received the seeds and necessary resources in time for the planting season and that herders were able to keep their cattle alive. The Food and Agriculture Organization needed resources to be able to continue its work in Somalia and reach those in most need.
VALERIE AMOS, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said it was good to hear from the Governments of the countries of the Horn of Africa to see what they were doing and what they expected from the United Nations. Ms. Amos thanked donor States for the announcements of contributions. The need to address long-term needs was also important. Regarding the issue of Somalia and a revised appeal, a revised emergency appeal would be launched based on the ability to operate in a large part of the country.
CHEIK DIARRA, Special Advisor on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said what he had retained from the discussion was that there was an urgent need to take action in a coordinated fashion and reverse the current trend. It was also important to bear in mind the strategies of the countries concerned. The need to assure transparency in humanitarian affairs management and show the impact of implementation on the ground had been emphasized. Intervention should be as broad as possible and employ strategies for the short, medium and long term. Mr. Diarra applauded the various announcements of aid and the interventions made to alleviate the suffering of the people of the Horn of Africa.
ANTONIO MANUEL DE OLIVEIRA GUTERRES, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, thanked neighboring countries for their generosity in receiving refugees and donors for the contributions. Mr. Guterres called upon all parties to respect international humanitarian law and appealed to countries in the region to continue to uphold an open doors policy and the spirit of solidarity in providing assistance to those affected by the crisis.
JAN GRAULS, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, thanked panellists for participating and reiterated the appeal to act and scale up efforts in the region. Mr. Grauls thanked delegations for their expressions of solidarity and commitment and pledges of solidarity and offers of assistance to those affected by the crisis. He appealed to donors, the international community and stakeholders to contribute to assisting those in need and providing immediate, mid-term and long-term measures to reduce the humanitarian effects of this crisis.
Continuation of General Discussion on Special Economic, Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance
ESTEBAN LEON, of the United Nations Humans Settlement Programme (UN Habitat), said a key element of the changing world was that presently the majority of the current population was urban. Ninety-one per cent of urban growth in the coming years would be in the small to medium cities of the developing world. Because cities concentrated large, dense populations and national economic assets, UN Habitat believed that meeting the humanitarian challenges and preparedness needs of urban populations required greater attention from Member States and the international humanitarian community. UN Habitat continued to lend its human settlement expertise in making international humanitarian responses more effective. The social and political complexity of cities in terms of varied partners presented an opportunity for more effective disaster risk reduction, preparedness and assistance. There was no question that national capacity for disaster risk reduction and preparedness had to be built or strengthened in most countries. Capacity building was equally, if not more, critical for municipalities and communities. Effective disaster risk reduction measures and preparedness in cities could be best achieved through improved urban planning, land use, governance and local economic development.
JEAN-FRANCOIS DURIEUX, of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said many man-made crises were unfolding, causing desperate people to seek safety. If they crossed borders, they became refugees. Refugee emergencies had special features. The cross-border nature of refugee flows meant that more than one State was affected. This required innovative mechanisms of coordination. Strong and reliable partnerships were needed. In the case of refugee financing, immense financing at the outset was necessary because such man-made crises were often of a political nature and required difficult and prolonged solutions. Accountability to beneficiaries had to be taken seriously. States were legally responsible vis-à-vis refugees. In the area of capacity-building, resources always seemed to fall short of need. Humanitarian work extended far beyond emergency situations. Coordination cut across all these areas and had to be taken seriously in addressing the needs of refugees.
BORIS FALATAR, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that millions of youth found themselves with little options for learning. When their worlds were turned upside down by conflict or disaster, children and youth needed safe spaces to be able to learn, to play and to imagine a better future. They needed structure, continuity and routine, which education could provide. Education also equipped students with life-saving information about critical health and protection issues and was a vehicle for delivery of other vial humanitarian services. Education could strengthen resilience, giving children and young people a sense of hope, promote inclusion and provide building blocks for recovery, development and prevention. Despite the life-saving and life sustaining benefits of its emergency provision, education remained one of the least funded priorities within the humanitarian system. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs figures showed that the education sector this year received only 1.4 per cent of humanitarian aid. This failure to invest in emergency education undermined the fulfillment of basic rights and set back the achievement of development goals. The continued strengthening of coordination was essential and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization expressed support to and alignment with the main humanitarian actors, donors and Member States who were advocating a holistic approach to humanitarian response.
DERMOT CARTY, of the United Nations Children's Fund, said that the world had experienced acute humanitarian crises, whether the result of armed conflict, natural disasters or a mixture of both. Children and women continued to be deprived of their most basic rights, and the capacities of international and national humanitarian organization were pushed to their limits to respond to growing humanitarian needs. In a year of financial hardship, resources available internationally to provide humanitarian assistance were not sufficient to cover the needs of all those who were affected. The United Nations Children's Fund was committed to ensuring that education was treated as a priority during response to all emergencies. Education was not only a right but a source of stability and safety for children whose lives were otherwise up-ended by conflict and the impact of disasters. A combination of factors, some chronic and some linked to drought and instability, had led to the worst humanitarian crisis at the moment in the Horn of Africa. The terrible drought and nutrition crisis was affecting children in the worst ways. The crude mortality rates among under-five years old children observed in Somalia were beyond imagination and the plight of those who managed to reach the over-crowded camps in Kenya after days of walking was equally dire. Resources were urgently needed, but it would also be important that the world’s attention should not fade when the crisis was out of the headlines. There would be a need in the medium and long term to invest in restoring livelihoods, assisting returns, helping ensure that children had access to school, and providing health services and protection to all these children.
Action on the Resolution on Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of the United Nations
JAN GRAULS, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, introducing draft resolution E/2011/L.33, expressed appreciation for its breadth and depth. The Council managed to substantively reflect the two themes of the panel discussions on preparedness and funding. Consensus grew to give operational guidance to strengthen management tools like human resources management, risk management for safety and security of humanitarian personnel, accountability, cluster coordination and partnerships with local and national authorities. Mr. Grauls thanked delegations for their openness and frankness and the constructive engagement during the negotiations in order to reach understanding and agreement.
The Council adopted, without a vote, resolution E/2011/L.33 on strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, which calls upon the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to enhance accountability to Member States, including affected States, and all other stakeholders, and to further strengthen humanitarian response efforts, including through monitoring and evaluating the provision of their humanitarian assistance, incorporating lessons learned into programming, and consulting with the affected populations so that their needs are appropriately addressed; calls upon all States and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations and to ensure the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and delivery of supplies and equipment, in order to allow humanitarian personnel to perform efficiently their task of assisting affected civilian populations, including refugees and internally displaced persons; calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law; calls upon all States and parties to comply fully with the provisions of international humanitarian law, including all the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949; urges Member States to continue to take the steps necessary to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, premises, facilities, equipment, vehicles and supplies operating within their borders, and on other territories under their effective control; and emphasizes the fundamentally civilian character of humanitarian assistance, and, in situations where military capacity and assets are used to support the implementation of humanitarian assistance, reaffirms the need for their use to be undertaken with the consent of the affected State and in conformity with international law, including international humanitarian law, as well as humanitarian principles.
Furthermore, the resolution requests Member States, relevant United Nations organizations and other relevant actors to ensure that all aspects of humanitarian response address the specific needs of women, girls, men and boys, taking into consideration age and disability, including through improved collection, analysis and reporting of sex- and age-disaggregated data, taking into account, inter alia, the information provided by States; urges Member States to continue to prevent, investigate and prosecute acts of sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies; calls upon Member States and relevant organizations to strengthen support services for victims of such violence, and also calls for a more effective response in that regard; and requests the Secretary-General to reflect the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the present resolution in his next report to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly on the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.
Statements Made After the Adoption of the Resolution
CLARA INES VAREAS SILVA (Colombia) thanked Australia and Indonesia for the role they played in facilitating the development of the text of the resolution. Colombia’s position on international humanitarian assistance was that it should be provided strictly in line with humanitarian principles as laid out in General Assembly resolution 46/182, particularly in respect to the role of the concerned State. Humanitarian assistance provided by the United Nations, countries and other stakeholders should be made on the basis of the request of the concerned State. Coordination as well as the involvement and experience of local and national actors contributed to strengthening the capacities of the affected state. Colombia drew the attention of the Council to paragraphs in the resolution regarding humanitarian international assistance mechanisms. Access of personnel should be made possible due to the consent of the state. Unlimited access did not ensure effective implementation of aid, particularly if there was no effective coordination with the state. It was important to establish inter-agency functions. It was key for this system to be consistent and based on the strategies and plans of the state. Other paragraphs in the resolution concerned characteristics of humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance should be provided using a comprehensive and integral approach. There had to be transition from emergency response to development.
VALERIE AMOS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, thanked the panellists, moderators and participants who enriched the debate with their expertise and welcomed the importance given by Member States to the need for effective coordination of international humanitarian assistance and their support for United Nations efforts to strengthen it. Speakers highlighted concerns about the increase in humanitarian needs and the ongoing progress towards building a more effective, accountable and timely humanitarian response system. More needed to be done, including greater accountability to affected people and participation in decision making; working closely with local, national and regional partners; and the need to maintain efforts to strengthen leadership at all levels. Partnerships were emphasized as an essential tool to provide adequate, needs-based and principled humanitarian responses for addressing present and current challenges, including agencies, financial institutions and the private sector, leveraging each other’s comparative advantages. The issue of humanitarian financing also received attention, including the need to systematically fund preparedness measures and to better address the transition from emergency relief to recovery and development, and the importance of reporting to donors and affected people on clear outcomes. Yesterday the Mid-Year Review of the Consolidated Appeals was launched. Humanitarian funding requirements had increased by half a billion dollars since the start of the year, bringing the total 2011 target to $ 7.9 billion, currently funded at 45 per cent, or $ 3.6 billion. The resolution adopted by consensus reaffirmed the importance of access and humanitarian principles, and made progress on referencing the cluster approach as well as accountability and the need to include acceptance as part of security risk-management strategies. Ms. Amos looked forward to continuing these discussions with the Council and the General Assembly on the importance of timely access, accountability to affected people and the need to improve protection for people displaced by natural disasters. There was a need to discuss how to further engage constructively in building Member States’ preparedness and response capacities.
JAN GRAULS, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said over the last few days, the Council had covered a wide range of questions. He had presided over two roundtables. The Council had the opportunity to be informed and sometimes provoked by partners. The exchanges were enriching and helped to identify the venues and avenues to be explored in the future. Twelve informal side events had been held, dealing with a wide range of topics. Most of the side events were organized in the framework of partnerships, where interesting and enriching discussion on humanitarian assistance took place. The Council attached particular attention to the issues and challenges of the world today, including the challenges ahead for the new nation of South Sudan and the unfolding crisis in the Horn of Africa.
For use of the information media; not an official record