Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The mounting humanitarian crisis

Stephen O’Brien, who since March this year is the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA), explained.

“Every humanitarian crisis is inherently unique and context-specific. However, taken together, there are 125 million people in need of aid in the world today as a result of conflicts and natural disasters and over 60 million people have been forcibly displaced. These are the highest numbers we have on record since WWII.” According to O’Brien, it is clear that “collectively we have not been able to adequately keep up with and respond to contemporary challenges.” The UN Under-Secretary-General explains that it is not about one humanitarian crisis, but multiple crises happening at the same time, from the crisis in Syria and the region to the impact of El Niño, which currently affects 60 million people in the world. And that the humanitarian needs have grown exponentially while the resources have not been able to follow suit which has created an ever-widening gap.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the consequences of climate change are “enormous”. Scarce natural resources such as drinking water are likely to become even more limited, it says. And adds that many crops and some livestock are unlikely to survive in certain locations if conditions become too hot and dry, or too cold and wet. Food security, already a significant concern, will become even more challenging. Recent reports cited by UNHCR indicate that 22 million people were displaced in 2013 by disasters brought on by natural hazard events. And as in previous years, the worst affected region is Asia, where 19 million people, or 87.1 per cent of the global total, were displaced during the year. That was the situation as far back as three years ago. The numbers have certainly dramatically increased.

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