• February 21, 2023

Rising humanitarian needs require political will, increased funding: UN relief chief

The world is facing the largest food crisis in modern history and famine is looming, while human rights – especially women’s rights – are under attack and tensions are high in places where injustice is rife, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in remarks to the Riyadh Humanitarian Forum in Saudi Arabia, delivered on behalf of the Secretary-General.

Furthermore, the war in Ukraine is entering its second year, and two weeks have passed since the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. 

Needs are mounting 

More than 350 million people around the world currently need humanitarian assistance,” he said. “We need almost $54 billion to meet the basic needs of the worst affected among them, but experience shows that we can expect to raise barely half of that amount.” 

These numbers continue to rise due to three main reasons:  protracted conflict, the climate emergency, and an economic collapse fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. 

While these “megacrises” mount, resources are not keeping up, he added. 

Surge in diplomacy  

Mr. Griffiths underscored the role humanitarians have in responding to crises, stating that their mandate and mantra is “we don’t give up”.  However, he called for practical and tangible help in discharging this mandate. 

“To end the wars and conflicts we know and to stop new ones breaking out, we urgently need a surge in diplomatic efforts,” he said. 

“We also need to address climate change head on, because every flood, heat wave, drought or super storm leaves a humanitarian crisis in its wake.” 

Millions going hungry 

Today, humanitarians need more resources to save lives, said Mr. Griffiths, sharing some of the “heartbreaking statistics.”   

Globally, more than 222 million people do not know when they will eat another meal, and 45 million people, mainly women and children, are already on the brink of starvation. 

‘All hands on deck’ 

Over the weekend, Secretary-General António Guterres announced an unprecedented $250 million allocation from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).   

Mr. Griffiths said the money will enable early action, but he called for donors to scale up their support

“Humanitarian action cannot stand alone. We need all hands on deck,” he said. 

“By working together, with the political will that is your currency to expend, we can stop conflicts, address the climate emergency, fight famines, and be ready for the next emergencies that inevitably lurk around the corner.” 

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