European Union External Action

Geneva discussions on humanitarian affairs

27/06/2019 - 23:55
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From 25 to 28 June, Geneva has been at the centre of international humanitarian discussions, gathering both the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Grand Bargain Annual Meeting, addressing key issues ranging from climate change related disasters to localisation and internal displacement issues. Headed by Monique Pariat, Director-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the European Union played an active role in showcasing its involvement as a major humanitarian donor.

 

The week opened with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS), a unique platform bringing together UN Member States and Observers, UN organizations, humanitarian and development partners, private sector and affected communities. This year’s HAS took place in Geneva under the theme “Promoting action to save lives, reach those in need and reduce humanitarian risk, vulnerability and need: looking towards the seventieth anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the climate summit called for by the Secretary-General”. Ms. Monique Pariat, Director-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), participated in the High Level Panel as well as several side events.

On Tuesday 25, the High Level Panel on Climate Change and weather-related disasters gathered distinguished panellists, including Ms. Ursulla Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA), Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Secretary-General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Ms. Monique Pariat. 

At the High Level Panel, Ms. Pariat stressed the need for the humanitarian community to act together on risks and anticipated responses to climate change and weather-related disasters, and called on a change of mind-set toward their responses. “The European Commission is testing new models for risk and forecast based financing, including science predictions and new ways to respond earlier and differently to risks,” she mentioned, recalling the fruitful collaborations of the EU with the IFRC, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Ms. Pariat also stressed that “climate analytics should become an integral part of response planning,” calling on new types of partnerships between humanitarian and science actors.

Among the various other events organised, Ms. Pariat participated in three side events on the humanitarian financing situation, on addressing internal displacement and on localisation issues.  

The first side event entitled “Addressing the Unmet Needs: Humanitarian Funding Trends and Gaps”, co-hosted by the EU, OCHA, and other partners, presented the key trends in Global Humanitarian Assistance and reflected on the Global Humanitarian Overview Funding Update covering people in need and funding status of UN-coordinated plans. Ms. Pariat started her remarks in warning that “underfunded crisis can leave the humanitarian community open to accusations of double standards, which underline its credibility – something we can barely afford in these challenging times.” At the same time, she recalled that the humanitarian funding provided by the EU is on the rise, illustrated by the commitment of the EU to the Education in Emergencies programmes that has been up-scaled to 10% in 2019, with a focus on the most in need, such as out of school, forcibly displaced children and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

The Director-General of ECHO also referred to the Forgotten Crisis index developed by the EU, identifying and ranking a combination of crisis factors (vulnerability, media coverage, donor interest, and qualitative assessment) on a global scale. Such index contributes to determine the level of appropriate funding for a given country or crisis and ensures crisis not to be forgotten. Currently, 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been identified as experiencing a forgotten crisis. “This awareness helps us to deliver on our commitment in principle to allocate 15% of our humanitarian budget to ‘forgotten crises’,” said Ms. Pariat.

Reaffirming EU's constant actions to find durable solutions for the forcibly displaced, Ms. Pariat took part in a side event entitled “Addressing internal displacement associated with disasters and conflicts” where she emphasized the integrated approach of the EU, benefiting both internal displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities.

On that occasion, she also expressed the support of the EU to the idea of establishing a High Level Panel on internally displaced persons (IDPs), as a way to encourage tailor-made solutions to vulnerabilities of IDPs, whilst acknowledging that the IDPs response remains an integral component of the overall response to an emergency. Ms. Pariat mentioned that such a High Level Panel will "offer a structured and common approach to address IDPs situations at the global level, by strengthening the capacity of states, the UN system and all other stakeholders," adding that this is "a shared objective to take this forward and ensure the international response address the whole displacement cycle."

Finally, Ms Pariat participated in a side event entitled "Localisation under the looking glass: what we have learned and where we are headed", aiming at encouraging reflections on new ways of engaging and empowering local and national responders in humanitarian situations. "There is good momentum to help our partners in Africa to move from fragility to opportunity," she declared, concluding the meeting.

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