Closing remarks by Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Joyce Msuya, during the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment – Global


New York, June 23, 2022
As delivered

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to close the humanitarian affairs segment of ECOSOC 2022.

As Secretary-General António Guterres noted earlier this week, the world is facing a mega-crisis fueled by conflict, climate change, rising costs of living and a pandemic.

The result is an alarming increase in hunger, poverty, displacement and inequality almost everywhere. For hundreds of thousands of people, the threat of starvation is all too real. And as the cost of living crisis begins to take hold, many countries are on the brink of economic devastation.

The number of people in need of help has never been higher. And yet, as we have heard, we face a gaping financial gap which, if not closed, will plunge millions more into misery.

To respond to the growing wave of suffering, we must redouble our efforts to support a strong, flexible and well-resourced humanitarian system equipped to reach and protect people.

Our discussions this week have explored how to achieve this. Before officially closing the humanitarian affairs segment of ECOSOC, I would like to review some of the key themes that emerged. We looked at ways to improve respect for international humanitarian law to protect civilians in conflict and enable humanitarian access.

We agreed that all parties should do more to facilitate humanitarian assistance and that governments should ensure that humanitarian activities are exempt from sanctions and counter-terrorism measures.

We discussed how the pandemic has highlighted the need for more resilient health, education and protection systems as it has taken children out of school and pushed them into poverty .

And we discussed the need to stop the horrific levels of violence against women and children.

We spoke urgently about the huge hunger crisis in the world, with needs increasing at an alarming rate. We agreed that since humanitarian response plans are missing 80% of the funds they need, this gap needs to be filled.

We also heard how we need to move to proactive action. In three months, 3 million more people will suffer from hunger in the Horn of Africa. We need to increase flexible funding for predictable crises like this.

And we discussed how conflict, the climate crisis and disasters are pushing more and more people from their homes, driving internal displacement to an all-time high, with the most vulnerable being hardest hit. And we must not forget all those people who cannot leave.

Last but not least, we have heard of the worsening effects of the climate crisis, with calls on Member States to deliver on the $100 billion in climate finance they have pledged to developing countries, including for adaptation and resilience.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We need new solutions to these problems, local solutions.

The humanitarian system must become less northern and more local.

Now is the time to work with a new generation of local humanitarian agencies who can help shoulder the burden of the current mega-crisis, and who can analyze the risks, create plans and have access to pre-arranged funding to put those plans into action. .

Last year, more than a quarter of OCHA’s country-based pooled funds went directly to local and national NGOs. But much more needs to be done to empower local organizations to lead.

All of the solutions I have discussed have real power to transform the ability of the humanitarian sector to respond to rising levels of suffering. But these solutions will fall short of their potential without three essential ingredients.

The first ingredient is perhaps the most important. We have a saying in my language, Kiswahili: Jeraha uliganga sharti ulione. This means that to heal a wound, you have to see it; to solve a problem, you must understand it.

If we fail to better understand the people we seek to serve, in all their diversity, we will never truly understand the issues they face. And without this essential understanding, our response will never be sufficient. We must therefore make it our duty to listen and react accordingly.

This is what solidarity and respect mean.

Second, it is clear that we must address the root causes of today’s interconnected crises and work together to address them. Humanitarian aid cannot go any further.

Leaders must redouble their efforts in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

And invest in strengthening basic services, including national health systems and expanding social safety nets.
The last key ingredient, the one that will ensure success, is collaboration.

If we are to transform at the speed and scale necessary, collaboration and multilateralism are essential.

Interconnected crises require an interconnected response. Planetary emergencies require planetary politics. We know what we are capable of when we cooperate and how powerful we are when we act together. People in their time of greatest need want to survive first, and then find a way out of the crisis. The distinction between saving lives and building resilience is ours, not theirs.

The humanitarian, development and peacemaking communities need to work together and not let these institutional distinctions get in the way.

Now is the time to embrace difference, address issues that hinder collaboration, and find common ground.

Our discussions over the past few days reveal a central truth: we know what we need to do to build a better humanitarian system that can respond to the enormity of the problems of today and those of tomorrow.

I know we can meet this challenge.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.



United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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