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Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths Remarks at the High-Level Side Event on Climate Change and Humanitarian Action, 26 May 2022

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Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths Remarks at the High-Level Side Event on Climate Change and Humanitarian Action: Responding to growing needs in Africa - presentation of the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview

African Union Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference 2022

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

(26 May 2022)

As Delivered

I am pleased to join you all at this year’s African Union Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference.

I and my colleagues at the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, welcome the launch of the African Union Humanitarian Fund. We also welcome progress on the African Humanitarian Agency, and we wish you tremendous success moving forward.

The GHO is an annual, evidence-based assessment of humanitarian needs across the world, country by country. It shows depressive records of needs and impressive records of the actions taken by local authorities and national authorities who show extraordinary courage and leadership.

This is a report that outlines humanitarian needs relating to hunger and malnutrition, health, water and sanitation, protection, education and livelihoods. It also presents strategic and costed response plans of how to address these needs.

The GHO confirmed that between 2019 and 2022, the number of people who need humanitarian assistance in Africa increased from 77 million to 130 million people. That’s a staggering 70 per cent increase. Which gives us an agenda for action.

And in that same time frame, the number of people in Africa targeted for humanitarian assistance has nearly doubled, from 56 million to 87 million.

This means African countries account for over 45 per cent of people in need every year.

There are real people behind these figures. Each one of them lost a future and they deserve more than just our attention.

They deserve action.

Everyone here today is well aware of this.

First, there is the growing climate crisis, which is hitting Africa particularly hard. Twelve of the 15 countries most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to climate change are in Africa. Of these, seven had a UN Humanitarian Response

Plan in 2021. These countries are vulnerable to the scourge of climate change.

I recently visited the Turkana region in Kenya, which is impacted by drought. I had the privilege to meet Asha Mohammed, the Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society. She explained to me that there are more than 200,000 Red Cross volunteers in Kenya. We sit at your feet. We need to make partnerships work. We need to make anticipatory action work.

Second, there are the prolonged conflicts and spreading insecurity and violence in some parts, which have freshly uprooted millions of people this year, including 15 million in West and Central Africa alone.

Parts of some countries are now in an almost permanent state of humanitarian crisis. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan, for instance, have launched humanitarian appeals for 20 consecutive years. Mali and Niger are now halfway there.

Third, there is the lingering socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, which has heightened poverty and inequality.

And finally, there are the fragile institutions now struggling to meet people’s needs. People affected by all these factors

When these factors are combined, the most painful manifestation is the extraordinary and exponentially growing hunger crisis now gripping whole regions but particularly the Horn and the Sahel, where 16.7 million and 18 million people, respectively, are acutely food insecure.

And this is just at the start of the hunger season.

In response, Governments and their humanitarian partners are scaling up wherever we can. OCHA helps coordinate responses in 17 countries across Africa, while also supporting three regional refugee response plans.

So far this year, through these plans, humanitarian agencies have brought shelter, protection support and relief assistance to 2.5 million people in South Sudan.

We provided 15 million people in the Sahel with food assistance, emergency education and malnutrition treatment. And in Mozambique, we provided food assistance and shelter to close to 1.3 million people.

Again, behind these numbers there are people who suffer. Even one individual experiencing such level of suffering is one too many.

This assistance is increasingly tailored to people’s different needs, be they children or the elderly, male or female, or whether they live with a disability or belong to a marginalized group.

And more of the funding received now goes straight to national and local NGOs. For instance, one third of the CountryBased Pooled Funds, which OCHA manages, fund national NGOs directly. I thank the many Member States present here for their contributions.

Financial requirements for humanitarian responses in Africa, as outlined in the GHO, have increased from $12 billion to $15 billion since 2019. But on average, over half of this is received each year. We cannot go on like this. This year the requirements are $46 billion, and we are unlikely to receive more than $20 billion.

Globally, the GHO – which comprises all the world’s UN appeals and response plans – is just 13 per cent funded. This is partly why the humanitarian sector is shifting towards anticipating shocks and acting early to prevent crises from taking hold in the first place.

We must all increase partnerships if we want to do better.

This is my message to Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner of health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development of the African Union, who is the humanitarian leader in Africa.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit