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With needs at a record high, underfunding is chronic Guterres tells humanitarians

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With 360 million people worldwide in need of humanitarian assistance, up 30 percent since early 2022, global humanitarian needs have yet again reached record levels.

In a video message to the Humanitarian Affairs Segment, a platform created by the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to find solutions to pressing humanitarian aid issues, Antonio Guterres cited some shocking figures: more than 110 million people have been forced from their homes, while more than 260 million face daily difficulties getting food.

Famine is a growing risk for many.

While the figures change, the reasons driving them up do not. The Secretary-General referred to the devastating impact of unresolved conflicts, that “grind on while new wars are launched” and the global economic turmoil triggered by COVID and aggravated by the worldwide impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Another hostile factor driving up fatalities and displacing millions is climate change, he said.

And as the most vulnerable are hit hardest, “sustainable development – the ultimate prevention tool – has stagnated or gone into reverse,” warned Mr. Guterres.

Crisis of funding

Many responsible for rising conflict are violating international law, attacking hospitals, schools and critical infrastructure. Rampant human rights violations are being committed, including against women and girls.

In response, humanitarian aid agencies and UN partners on the ground are finding new ways to provide emergency aid around the world, said the UN chief.

In Ukraine last year aid workers ramped up deliveries to support some 15.4 million people. Another 17 million people in Afghanistan, 2.8 million in Nigeria and 2.5 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have received humanitarian aid since the beginning of this year.

The Secretary-General assessed those operations as “huge” and regretted that financing for them cannot keep up with rising demand.

Halfway through 2023, the Global Humanitarian Appeal is only 20 per cent funded.

“This is causing a crisis within a crisis,” Mr. Guterres believes. Shortages of funds are causing rollbacks of food aid in Syria, Bangladesh, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Without a solution to the funding crisis, further cuts are inevitable, warned the UN chief.

Solutions focus

Antonio Guterres encouraged meeting participants to consider ways to increase humanitarian resources, to deliver aid more efficiently and effectively, to better protect individuals in crises, to reduce food insecurity and to increase resilience by investing in climate adaptation

ECOSOC’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment brings together UN Member States, UN organizations, humanitarian and development partners, the private sector and affected communities.

They meet each June to discuss how to best tackle the most recent humanitarian concerns and crises.

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