Dear UN Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Griffiths,
Dear Dr. Tedros and members of the Panel,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Thirty years ago, on 19 December 1991, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 46/182, sending a clear message on the imperative of international solidarity in order to save lives and alleviate human suffering.
This call on the international community remains more valid than ever. The Global Humanitarian Overview for 2022, launched today in Geneva and simultaneously presented in Brussels and other capitals, is a poignant reminder of the daunting tasks ahead. Numbers and statistics fail to do justice to the tragic human cost. It is not only a moral imperative, but also in the interest of the international community to step up our efforts to finance and improve the delivery of humanitarian aid.
We are committed to do our part. The EU and its Member States, in the spirit of the Team Europe approach, are collectively the world’s leading humanitarian donor, accounting for about 36% of global humanitarian assistance. Our engagement to remain at the forefront of addressing humanitarian needs world-wide will be further strengthened in 2022 and beyond. This builds upon the solid track record of our growing humanitarian budget in recent years. Under the EU’s new Multiannual Financial Framework for the period of 2021-2027, the provision for the EU humanitarian budget amounts to 11 billion EUR.
The validity of our humanitarian commitment was reaffirmed in the policy documents on the EU’s humanitarian action adopted earlier this year, namely the Commission Communication and EU Council Conclusions adopted respectively in March and May 2021. The first-ever European Humanitarian Forum, scheduled to take place on 24-26 January 2022, will enable the EU and its Member States to engage with the broader humanitarian community, offer a European perspective on the multiple humanitarian challenges, and aim to identify solutions to address the unprecedented level of needs.
Humanitarian action of the EU and its Member States will continue to be premised on the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence. Protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, ensuring respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and providing needs-based assistance remain the foundations of the EU’s response to emergencies, both human-induced and due to natural hazards. Maintaining IHL at the heart of the EU’s external action constitutes an overarching priority. The EU and its Member States will continue to advocate for a better monitoring of IHL violations and insist on accountability in case of IHL violations, such as attacks against all civilians, including humanitarian and health care workers, or the use of starvation as a weapon.
Safeguarding the humanitarian space and addressing impediments to access people in need are essential enablers for principled humanitarian action. The COVID-19 crisis brought to the forefront the human cost of hindrances to humanitarian access and other administrative and political hurdles that severely constrain the operating environment of humanitarian workers. Facing longer and more complex crises, humanitarians need stronger support and enhanced capacities to stay and deliver humanitarian aid in a principled and efficient way. In this context, the EU highly welcomes the initiative of the UN Secretary General to appoint a Special Advisor on the Preservation of Humanitarian Space and Access.
We are very concerned about the ever-increasing number of people displaced every year in the world by disasters and the adverse effects of climate change. Within the EU framework, our work is taken forward in the nexus logic. Disaster and climate-related displacement is a complex issue that should be addressed through a 360-degree approach, aiming to prevent where possible, prepare better and anticipate, help people on the move, and strengthen resilience and protection. Building on more partnerships with climate and scientific communities, the EU will therefore scale up the use of anticipatory approaches. Aiming to put the issue of disaster displacement high on the agenda, the EU is looking forward to assuming on 1 July 2022 the Chairmanship of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.
We will continue delivering on our commitment to put people at the centre of the humanitarian response. Accountability to affected populations and empowering local communities and responders remain key signposts of our humanitarian action. EU-funded humanitarian aid is gender- and age sensitive, and integrates disability inclusion, as well as mental health and psychosocial support. The EU and its Member States will continue supporting efforts to prevent, mitigate and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises, and to apply a zero tolerance approach to any form of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In today’s humanitarian landscape the needs far outpace available resources. Addressing the funding gap, currently estimated at 17.5 billion EUR, requires twin efforts of making the best use of what we have whilst working to expand the donor base.
In line with the Grand Bargain commitments, the EU and its Member States highlight the importance of advancing on the efficiency agenda. Intensifying efforts to pursue a people-centred needs analysis to inform the Humanitarian Programme Cycle is an integral part of this equation. We must also deliver better, notably with more quality funding, more involvement of local responders, and better integration of the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation into the design and delivery of our funding and assistance. This is a common endeavour of donors, the UN, and international and local NGOs alike.
Although a number of countries have stepped up their humanitarian budgets, it is essential to acknowledge that the global humanitarian effort relies heavily on a very limited number of donors. The world’s top 10 donors currently contribute over 80% of humanitarian funding. Expanding the donor base should be taken forward as a priority and the EU is working to ramp up our engagement with like-minded and emerging donors.
In parallel to increasing humanitarian funding and its efficiency, we must mobilise also the other tools at our disposal, including political processes and development support, in a seamless and consistent implementation of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. While fully respecting the mandates and objectives of each instrument and a principled approach to humanitarian aid, we must address the root causes of crises, helping increase the resilience of affected communities, and paving the way for peace and stability.
Let me conclude by reiterating the strong appreciation of the EU and its Member States of the leadership role of the UN Secretary General in coordinating the international response to emergencies. An effective approach to humanitarian affairs is an integral part of the EU’s strategic commitment to an effective UN, and to rules-based multilateralism. The UN system and OCHA can continue relying on our enduring support. Thank you.