People's Stories Wellbeing

Insufficient funding for humanitarian operations costs lives
by Ursula Mueller
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
June 2018
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Ursula Mueller, Presentation of the Global Humanitarian Overview Status Report, June 2018
The Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) for 2018 was launched last December. The GHO Status Report provides an update six months on, looking at crisis contexts, funding received, and unmet requirements.
In the past six months, donors have generously contributed and invested US$8.3 billion in humanitarian response by the United Nations and partners. This compares to $6.2 billion at the same time last year, and reflects earlier funding to some of the top crises, including Yemen.
First, I would like to acknowledge our gratitude for this support, and second I want to explain why we need to increase this level of humanitarian funding.
Today’s global, UN-coordinated, inter-agency humanitarian appeal calls for $25.4 billion to meet the needs of 100 million individuals who depend on our support.
We have witnessed a steep increase in need in recent years. Thanks to continued support, humanitarian partners are doing more, doing it better, and continue to save lives.
Although GHO response plans are coordinated by the United Nations, some 800 different humanitarian organizations are involved in response operations. These are mostly national NGOs, which we increasingly partner with and they carry out humanitarian action.
The GHO covers 21 humanitarian response plans, four regional refugee response plans and one regional refugee and resilience plan. In all, 40 countries will benefit.
As we reach mid-year 2018, 156 million vulnerable people in 40 countries need assistance. These people need health interventions, nutrition, food security, education, protection, shelter, clean water and sanitation services. Some depend on our support for their very survival. Others, if unassisted, will continue living in extremely difficult circumstances, or will flee their homes or countries and face an additional new set of problems.
In addition to the severe situations in South Sudan, Syria Region, and Yemen, I would like to mention two significant crises that have seen critical changes since the start of the year, being Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
From 2017 to 2018, humanitarian requirements in Afghanistan decreased, as recurring needs were planned under the One UN development framework, which brings together sustainable development and peace and security goals. But now drought is affecting two thirds of Afghanistan’s provinces, and more than two million people are projected to be severely food insecure over the next six months. To address this critical situation, the Afghanistan appeal was increased by $117 million to assist 4.2 million people.
On Bangladesh: in March, the 2018 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis was increased by 119 per cent when UN agencies and NGO partners released an appeal that amounts to $951 million for this year. This targeted 1.3 million people, including more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar since August last year. This is now known as the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. The ongoing emergency is also compounded by the arrival of the monsoon season.
The best-funded appeals in proportion to requirements are those for Yemen, Nigeria and Iraq. With Yemen funded at just over 50 per cent, and Iraq and Nigeria at 50 percent and 46 percent, respectively, much has been accomplished, but nevertheless these appeals require greater funding to close the remaining gap.
I would also like to draw your attention to the five least funded appeals as of June 2018. These are for Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, the occupied Palestinian territory, and Ukraine. It is critical that donors consider the consequences to individuals and families if humanitarian operations are not funded over the next six months. Underfunding means medical facilities close, food rations are cut back and children are denied an education.
This translates in less protection and lives lost, and we cannot afford to wait for the media to place a spotlight on these crises before stepping up our response.
Also, largely outside the media spotlight, are the nearly six million people across the Sahel region, who cannot access adequate food. We have seen evidence of rapid health deterioration in recent months in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
In Ethiopia, at least 7.9 million people need humanitarian assistance because of drought, disease outbreaks, loss of livestock and displacement caused by an upsurge of violence along the border between Oromia and Somali regions. The Government and humanitarian partners have asked for $280 million over the next six months to help the worst-affected people, through the Ethiopia Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan.
I recently visited the Central African Republic, where I witnessed first-hand the effects of renewed, large-scale violence, which has led to one of the highest humanitarian caseloads per capita in the world. While this crisis has faded from the headlines in 2018, the number of internally displaced people has nearly doubled over the last 12 months and growing numbers of Central Africans are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. The humanitarian response for CAR is severely underfunded this year again, with contributions at just 21 per cent of what is required. People I met with were running out of hope.
In the last six months the UN and humanitarian partners have worked together to ensure aid reaches the most vulnerable people in a timely, inclusive, accountable, flexible and efficient manner. The UN alongside regional and national partners have held funding events for the DRC, Somalia, Syria and the region, and Yemen for 2018, raising over $7 billion for this year and nearly $3.5 billion for humanitarian action in 2019 and beyond. I would like to thank all the generous donors who pledged funds to these crises, and including those who contributed to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
This year, CERF has allocated $118 million to these countries, Syria, and Yemen, which is 41 per cent of all CERF allocations in 2018. The second CERF under-funded round will be announced in July. Your support to the 18 country-based pooled funds complements this CERF funding so that Humanitarian Coordinators can fill critical response gaps. Core, unearmarked funding – much of it granted on a multi-year basis – enables aid agencies to allocate funding where it is most needed and at critical periods throughout the year when it is most needed.
Let me make it clear. Insufficient funding for humanitarian operations costs lives. 100 million people are looking to us for their hope and survival. We cannot to let them down.

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World Refugee Day: Dignity and safety of refugees has to be preserved
by IFRC, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Geneva, 20 June 2018
World Refugee Day: Dignity and safety of refugees has to be preserved. (IFRC)
With the number of people forcibly displaced climbing to historical levels, and as many governments adopt new and restrictive immigration policies that increase suffering for people searching for asylum and safety, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for the safety and dignity of all people on the move.
“We are extremely concerned to see a decisive movement building up against the principles that have guided our collective response to refugees, asylum seekers and other people on the move,” said IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy.
“Dignity, safety, and respect for the basic rights that all people have are enshrined in international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. They are being challenged in a way that we have not seen in decades,” continued Mr Sy.
“We call for the protection of all people, regardless of nationality or immigration status. With regards to refugees and asylum seekers, we call on governments to live up to their commitments made under international law.”
Yesterday (19 June), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that 68.5 million people had been driven from their homes across the world at the end of 2017, including 16.2 million displaced during 2017.
“We recognize that States have the right to set immigration policies, but this is not in contradiction with the imperative to alleviate the suffering of all children, women and men,” said Mr Sy.
Around the world, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provide a range of critical services to migrants and refugees, in countries of origin, transit and destination.
21 June 2018
UNHCR shocked by mass drownings off Libya, calls for urgent action - UN High Commissioner for Refugees
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is shocked and saddened by reports that some 220 people drowned off Libya in recent days while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
According to survivors, a wooden boat carrying an unknown number of refugees and migrants capsized off the coast of Libya on Tuesday (19 June). Out of the estimated 100 passengers, only five survived. They were rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard and disembarked in Mayia in the outskirts of the capital Tripoli. The survivors have been taken to a local hospital by the authorities for medical treatment. A number of bodies have been retrieved by rescuers or washed up on the beaches.
The same day, a rubber dinghy with some 130 people on board sunk at a different location off the Libyan coast. Sixty survivors were rescued by local fishermen, who took them back to shore in Dela (35 km west from Tripoli). Seventy people are believed to have drowned in this incident.
On 20 June, the Libyan Coast Guard conducted a rescue operation off Garabulli, 64 kilometers east of Tripoli. The refugees and migrants rescued were disembarked in Tajoura. The survivors reported that over 50 people travelling with them had perished.
UNHCR is dismayed by the ever-growing number of refugees and migrants losing their lives at sea and is calling for urgent international action to strengthen rescue at sea efforts by all relevant and capable actors, including NGOs and commercial vessels, throughout the Mediterranean.
At the same time, access to protection in countries of first asylum should be ensured, as well as alternative pathways for refugees in Libya trying to cross the sea in search of protection and safety. All these steps are crucial to ensure that no more lives are lost at sea.
On Monday (18 June) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi tossed a bouquet of flowers into the sea at Abu Setta in Libya before leading a moment of silence to commemorate the thousands of refugees and migrants who have perished at sea trying to reach Europe.
“These tragic deaths are a reminder that wars and poverty continue to drive people to take desperate journeys that cost them their life savings, their dignity and ultimately their lives,” said Grandi.
“With record numbers of people on the run, it has never been more urgent to address root causes, improve conditions in Libya and other countries along the route, provide safe alternatives and, always, rescue people at sea.”
These latest fatalities have pushed the death toll in the Central Mediterranean route to over 1,000 in 2018. As the summer season starts, it is expected that the number of refugees and migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean will increase. So far this year, the Libyan Coast Guard has disembarked more than 8,000 people at disembarkation points along the Libyan coast.
UNHCR and its partners are present at these points to provide food, water, relief items and medical assistance upon disembarkation. UNHCR is also working to ensure access to asylum seekers from all nationalities and that alternatives to detention are available for refugees rescued or intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard.
June 2018
Refugees and other migrants do not lose their rights by crossing borders, writes Felipe González Morales, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
“Burden,” “cockroaches,” “flood,” “horde”, “illegal,” “rabid dogs,” “rapists,” “terrorists;” these words filled with hatred against people on the move have launched internal conflicts, genocides and wars on our planet in the past century.
These words are used to further the “dehumanisation” of refugees and other migrants, and have permeated political discourse in many countries around the world that has fuelled a climate of exclusion and violence against people on the move.
Public opinion surveys have revealed a consistent over-estimation of the numbers of migrants in many destination countries; and widespread misconceptions about the scale and nature of migration have contributed to prejudice and rising xenophobic populism, which is often fuelled by political leaders and media who use incitement and hatred against migrants for their political advantage.
“Blaming migrants is an easy way for political leaders to gather support from nationals, exploiting and exacerbating sentiments of discrimination and xenophobia. In the absence of substantive public policies to address economic and social problems at home, migrants become an easy target,” said Felipe González Morales, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
Concerns about foreigners stealing jobs and representing a burden to society are often in sharp contrast to the evidence, which shows that migrants contribute in diverse ways to the economy and society of communities of origin and destination. Research shows that for example, over the past ten years, migrants represented 47 percent of the increase in the workforce in the United States and 70 percent in Europe.
Further, the vast majority of refugees continue to be hosted by developing countries. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the countries that host the most refugees are Turkey (3.5 million), Uganda (1.4 million), Pakistan (1.4 million), Lebanon (1 million) and Iran (almost 980,000).
Still, across the world, borders are increasingly securitized or even militarized and the act of crossing a border without a visa – which many refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations are forced to do to seek safety and which, for all migrants, should at most constitute an administrative offence – is criminalized.
In recent weeks, the zero tolerance policy put in place along the United States southern border has led to people caught entering the country irregularly being subjected to criminal prosecution and having their children taken away from them as a result. Almost 2,000 children have been forcibly separated from their parents and detained, causing severe trauma to them and their families.
In Hungary last month, a bill was presented to Parliament that would criminalize human rights monitoring at borders and the work of human rights defenders who provide information, legal aid and assistance to migrants. These prohibitions, and related measures adopted by the Government of Hungary in recent months, stigmatize and harm migrants in vulnerable situations and those who seek asylum.
Such criminalization and dehumanization of migrants and refugees by policies and rhetoric sends the message that they have neither rights, nor a place in society. As a result, some migrants fear harassment by simply being in public spaces, avoid seeking help when they’ve been attacked, and are forced to endure discrimination without being able to seek justice.
“Migrants are affected in many ways by the rhetoric of political extremists. It affects their chances to integrate into the societies they live in; they are labelled as the causes of the problems; their protection under the rule of law is weakened, as they are deprived of many rights that nationals effectively enjoy,” González Morales said. “The most basic human rights of migrants can be at stake, including economic and social rights, the right to liberty and security, and even their right to life.”


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