UN response teams underfunded as costs hit staggering $23.5 billion

A wide view of a briefing on the humanitarian affairs segment participants in Geneva on 21 to 23 June, 2017 workshop on Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


UN response teams that help the most vulnerable people in the world are still largely underfunded, a new status report has revealed. The funding available to the teams is no match for the record number of people—141 million—who need assistance today.

Newer and protracted conflicts have raised the bar of funding requirements to a staggering 23.5 billion dollars. International donors, since the launch of Humanitarian Appeal in 2016 by the UN and its partners, have contributed to a total of 6.2 billion dollars.

The lack of funding is especially worrying as many countries have seen a resurgence in violent conflicts – for instance, rapid escalation of fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s central Kasai province.

Many others are threatened by natural disasters, such as the drought in Kenya, or flooding in Peru. Still others, almost 20 million people, are at risk in countries at the brink of a famine, such as northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

However, teams have worked hard to reach people, and have provided crucial assistance to many. The numbers, although small in com parison to the people who need aid, is worthy of recognition to the commitment of the UN Humanitarian Appeal.

Some 5.8 million people in war-torn Yemen, and 3 million people in famine-struck South Sudan have, for instance, received life-saving assistance. “Funding to response plans is a high-impact investment as they are prioritized on the basis of thorough needs assessment and analysis.

Supporting the plans also provides the most neutral and impartial aid,” said Stephen O’Brien, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The report highlights the pressing need for financial aid to support people across 37 countries, and urges donors to step up their contributions. “With generous donor support, humanitarian partners have swiftly scaled up to deliver record levels of life-saving assistance in challenging and often dangerous environments.

Donors have invested in these efforts but we are in a race against time. People’s lives and wellbeing depend on increasing our collective support,” said O’Brien. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) brings together Member States, United Nations entities, humanitarian and development partners, private sectors and affected communities at the Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) to discuss urgent humanitarian issues each year in June.

The event this year runs from 21st until 23rd June.

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