UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council that the world “hurricane of humanitarian crises” and cited Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria as examples of the “bloody surge in humanitarian crises", compounded by a “relentless wave of attacks” on humanitarian and medical workers, and the imposition of ever-narrower constraints on humanitarian space,
Civilians in conflict zones are paying the highest price, Antonio Guterres explained. Around the world, he said, security incidents affecting humanitarian organizations including shootings, assaults, sexual violence, kidnappings and raids “have increased tenfold since 2001.”
The secretary-general said in Yemen 20 million people are in dire need of humanitarian aid, and five million “are face-to-face with famine.”
He depicted a grim picture of civilian executions, arbitrary arrests, detentions, forced displacement and sexual violence against children, on a massive scale, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
The UN chief spoke of “brutal attacks” in Afghanistan and Syria people are living “face-to-face” with hunger. He said there needed to be greater respect for international humanitarian law that does not “blur the lines” between military operations, political objectives and humanitarian efforts.
Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, echoed Guterres’ concern. Humanitarian budgets are under increasing pressure, he said.
There is “a dire lack of protection and assistance for those who need it most” and humanitarian workers are put “in mortal danger, far too many of them traumatized, missing, maimed or killed.”
This year the UN and its partners are seeking to assist 160 million people – its highest number ever.