Item 73 (a) of the preliminary list*
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
The present report was prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution 46/182, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report annually to the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council on the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance. The report is also submitted in response to Assembly resolution 73/139 and Economic and Social Council resolution 2018/11. The period covered by the report is 1 January to 31 December 2018.
The report contains an outline of efforts to improve humanitarian coordination and response and reduce the levels of need, risk and vulnerability, information regarding humanitarian trends, challenges and measures taken and recommendations, including on respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law, on addressing severe food insecurity, the threat of famine, forced displacement, disasters and climate-related impacts and on anticipatory financing in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the commitment to leaving no one behind.
Overview of key trends
1. Humanitarian crises are affecting more people than ever, with tens of millions of people forced to flee their homes, losing their livelihoods and facing hunger, disease and an uncertain future. Despite global economic and development gains, humanitarian crises are lasting longer than ever.
2. Global trends, including increasing poverty, inequality, population growth, conflict, climate change and pandemics, have eroded resilience, making people susceptible to shocks. Crises also exacerbate the situations of vulnerability of women, children, older persons, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the poor.
3. In 2018, humanitarian response plans targeted a record 97.9 million people. Humanitarian funding requirements peaked at $25.1 billion. A record $15.2 billion was generously provided, however, the funding gap hovered at 40 per cent, as it has done for five years.
4. Conflicts and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have had devastating effects, including on children. In some conflicts, civilians were routinely killed or maimed and civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and schools, were damaged or destroyed in targeted or indiscriminate attacks. People were cut off from food and water supplies and life-saving assistance. Conflict-related sexual violence remained prevalent in many conflict situations. The toll of conflicts and protracted crises on mental health and psychosocial well-being has been immense. They year 2019 marks the seventieth anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949; it is a powerful opportunity for reinforcing their continuing relevance and effective implementation.
5. By the end of 2017, war, violence and persecution had uprooted 68.5 million people, including over 40 million internally displaced persons. Internal displacement is an increasingly urban phenomenon, requiring new approaches for identifying, assessing and addressing needs.
6. Protracted crises are prevalent, with the average humanitarian crisis lasting over nine years. Those situations cannot be solved through short-term approaches. Against the backdrop of the Sustainable Development Goals, with the promise of leaving no one behind, ending deprivation by reducing risks and vulnerabilities is critical.
7. Although the world is better at predicting, preparing for and responding to disasters, disaster risks continue to increase. Disasters increase humanitarian needs and reverse development gains. In 2018, 312 disasters affected some 65.6 million people. From 2008 to 2018, disasters displaced an average of 24 million people annually. Climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and variability of extreme weather events, which threaten and destroy lives and livelihoods, including agricultural production, and weaken resilience. Climate change is a threat multiplier that can precipitate and exacerbate conflict, displacement and water and food insecurity. It poses an existential threat to some small island developing nations.
8. Food insecurity is rising, driven by conflict, climate variability and economic downturn. In 2018, 113 million people were experiencing crisis-level food insecurity or worse. Those numbers could increase in 2019, due to further shocks and stressors, with 143 million people on the verge of crises-level food insecurity. Accelerating initiatives to address food insecurity, such as the global network against food crises, remains important. In 2017, the combination of conflict, drought and acute food insecurity left over 20 million people facing or on the brink of famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Although the international community mobilized following the Secretary-General’s call to action, 2018 was marked by staggering levels of hunger. In 2019, rising food insecurity is of particular concern in Yemen.
9. The breakdown of health systems in fragile settings increases risks of outbreaks and epidemics. Many recent outbreaks had animal sources, including Ebola virus disease and H5N1 highly-pathogenic avian influenza virus disease. Recent events have highlighted the challenges of controlling outbreaks and epidemics in complex humanitarian contexts and the importance of early mobilization of integrated responses.
10. Against such challenges, humanitarian organizations continue delivering, saving millions of lives and reducing suffering. In 2019, the United Nations and humanitarian organizations require $25.2 billion to assist 105.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
11. Addressing the underlying causes of crises and making progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires a concerted effort to leave no one behind. Humanitarian actors and the repositioned United Nations development system must accelerate their collaboration to address needs, risk and vulnerability through combined, complementary responses. There are opportunities to reduce vulnerability in the context of the Secretary-General’s prevention and management reform agenda, the high-level political forum on sustainable development, the climate summit called for by the Secretary-General, the high-level review of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the sixth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.