Global: “We enter 2014 with multiple, severe humanitarian crises threatening or affecting the lives of millions”

2 Jan 2014

2 January 2014, New York: UN Humanitarian Chief briefs the press at UN headquarters in New York. She warned that millions of people have started the year in need of humanitarian assistance and that the international humanitarian system is already stretched “to the limit”. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
UN Humanitarian Chief warns that as 2014 begins with tens of millions of people in need, the international humanitarian system is already stretched “to the limit”.

UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos has warned that tens of millions of people have started the new year in need of urgent humanitarian support and that the capacity and resources of the international humanitarian system are stretched “to the limit”.

“We enter 2014 with multiple, severe humanitarian crises threatening or affecting the lives of millions of people,” said Ms. Amos at a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York. [Watch the video on UN Web TV].

“Millions of people have begun this year internally displaced or as refugees – dependent on humanitarian organizations for a place to sleep, food to eat and for basic healthcare.”

Violence against a backdrop of abject poverty and a collapsing state

2013 drew to a close with the UN and its humanitarian partners responding to a series of very serious and complex crises, including in the Central African Republic and South Sudan where already precarious situations had deteriorated in the face of new outbreaks of violence.

“More than one in six Central Africans are now internally displaced and nearly half a million face hunger,” said Ms.Amos. “Aid agencies continue to scale up their response activities as fast as security conditions allow. But it has not been easy.”

“People’s lives depend on this”

In South Sudan, violence has forced almost 200,000 people from their homes in recent weeks. Aid agencies have provided assistance to about 107,000 people so far, and in the past few days have announced plans to support 600,000 people over the coming three months.

“I am deeply concerned about the ongoing reports of disturbing, gross violations of human rights and the lack of protection of civilians,” said Ms. Amos. “Aid organizations need access to affected communities. People’s lives depend on this.”

Syria continues to deteriorate

Ms. Amos spoke also of the continuing crisis in Syria and neighbouring countries. Aid organizations now estimate that 9.3 million Syrians – about 40 per cent of the country’s population – need aid. An estimated 6.5 million people are displaced inside the country, and a further 2.3 million have left Syria as refugees.

“In mid-December we launched the largest ever appeal for a single humanitarian emergency (for Syria and surrounding countries),” said Ms. Amos. “We requested US$6.5 billion.

“We are doing out utmost to support the children, women and men affected by this bloody conflict. The funding that we need is unprecedented.”

In an effort to raise these funds, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will later this month chair the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, hosted by His Highness the Emir of Kuwait.

$12.9 billion to support 52 million people

Ms. Amos highlighted other crises around the world that affects tens of millions of people and require billions of dollars to effectively address. In all, the UN and its partners need $12.9 billion to support 52 million people in need in 2014 – a figure that does not include unpredictable challenges and new disasters.

“2013 was a real test for the global humanitarian system. There is no indication that this year will be any different,” concluded Ms. Amos. “It is clear that the United Nations and our partners are needed more than ever.”