Plenary

Abdulla Shahid (General Assembly President) on…

10 December 2021

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Abdulla Shahid (General Assembly President) on Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance

Production Date: 
10 Dec 2021

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00:07:03

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Summary: 
Opening statement by Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly, on Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance.
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Excellencies,

Today's debate is timely, as Resolution 46/182, which created the
humanitarian system, as we know it today, turns thirty.

The importance of this Resolution cannot be overstated. It was and
remains a commitment by the international community to protect the
world's most vulnerable people, and to empower and enable those who
would help.

I am glad to say that many of the institutions, partnerships, and principles
they nurtured remain with us today, albeit with changes and adaptations to
reflect the times.

While we mark this year thirty-year anniversary, our discussion today is far
from positive.

Humanitarian concerns remain prevalent throughout the world.

In fact, the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview noted that nearly 300
million people in 63 countries are in need of humanitarian assistance. The
UN and partners will target assistance for 183 million of those most in need
– the highest ever.

This assistance comes at a financial cost. The Global Humanitarian
Overview calls for US $41 billion, the highest appeal ever made.

I urge the international community to support this appeal. We have a moral
obligation to protect and provide for those most vulnerable, let us live up to
these ideals.

Excellencies,

Our discussion today is focused on how we can strengthen the
coordination of disaster and humanitarian relief assistance.

On this, I would emphasize four key points.

First, we cannot ignore the impact of COVID-19. It is widely known that
those furthest behind suffered disproportionately more during the
pandemic. LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, already burdened with debt and
structural deficiencies, have now had to face yet another crisis.

For those already on the precipice of humanitarian need, the pandemic
may have been the final push. We know full well, with data from the World
Bank, that hundreds of millions were forced into extreme poverty and food
insecurity.

Let us use the COVID-19 recovery to address these concerns. If we are
talking about coordination, here, in the recovery from the pandemic, is our
first port of entry to help millions of people.

Second, vaccine equity must be prioritized above all else. We are facing
yet another variant of COVID-19 that is a direct result of our inability to
vaccinate the world.

How many more variants will there be before one comes along that is more
lethal, or entirely resistant to our vaccines?

We risk going right back to square one and enduring yet more lockdowns if
we do not move quickly to stop this pandemic.

2022 must be the year that we do this. Some of the poorest and most
vulnerable countries are among the most underserved on vaccine access.
Let us protect them; let us protect our world.

Third, the pandemic, like so many other challenges, has unduly impacted
on women and girls. We see this in the "shadow pandemic" of domestic
violence, and in the fact that women and girls have been disproportionately
impacted by socio-economic impacts, such as the loss of jobs and
livelihoods, or of access to education.

I encourage all Member States to prioritize the plight of women and girls in
your considerations around humanitarian coordination and response.

Fourth, we must not forget the larger climate crisis. The humanitarian
community are also on the frontlines of climate impacts, responding to
disasters brought on by hurricanes, droughts, floods, and other natural
hazards that have seen an increase in intensity and frequency.

Without action to address climate change, we will see only more climate-
related disasters and more climate-related migration. Even if the world
were to act now to address climate change, we can still anticipate decades
of impacts due to our delays; it is imperative that the humanitarian and relief agencies are closely linked to efforts to support adaptation and to
help prevent and prepare for natural disasters.

Excellencies,

I ask also that we prioritize the safety and security of humanitarian
personnel in our discussions and in any actions that are taken.

Too many have lost their lives or been injured while attempting to help their
fellow women and men. In 2021, at least 1100 humanitarian workers have
been killed. This is simply unacceptable.

Humanitarian workers deserve our gratitude, but they also deserve the
resources, skills, and equipment to be safe.

Let us not let them down. All Member States must give full support to
humanitarian access and ensure full safety and security of personnel.

While it is essential that we meet humanitarian funding needs, it is also
important that we strengthen the partnerships and collaboration needed to
achieve success.

Development partners, international financial institutions, and the private
sector all have a role to play in reducing vulnerability and strengthening
resilience and response.

My dear friends,

COVID-19 may have set back progress on the Sustainable Development
Goals, but this does not have to be the case if we respond and recover
appropriately.

Addressing humanitarian needs is key to that.

It is up to us to act. Let us do so decisively, with conviction and
compassion.

Thank you."

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