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Reaching those furthest behind

11 Dec 2018
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Sana'a, Yemen. Credit: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

More than 1 per cent of people across the planet right now are caught up in major humanitarian crises. The international humanitarian system is more effective than ever at meeting their needs – but global trends including poverty, population growth and climate change are leaving more people than ever vulnerable to the devastating impacts of conflicts and disasters.

Around one in every 60 people around the world is caught up in a crisis and urgently needs humanitarian assistance and protection. More and more people are being displaced by conflict, while International Humanitarian Law is often flouted.

Under the theme of “Solutions for Humanity: Creating opportunities for those furthest behind” OCHA’s seventh annual Global Humanitarian Policy Forum (GHPF) will focus on global trends and challenges and provide an opportunity to collectively discuss how to provide concrete solutions to some of them.

Here are some of the key issues that will be discussed this year.

Respect for international humanitarian law in the delivery of humanitarian assistance


Sana'a: UNHCR trucks are being loaded with non-food items (blankets) to be brought and distributed to Amran, a hundred kilometers north of the capital Sana'a. Credit: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

In many armed conflicts across the world, humanitarian access is increasingly unsafe, delayed, and impeded, leaving millions deprived of life-saving assistance. Besides active hostilities and logistical challenges, the most severe constraints tend to be bureaucratic impediments and attacks against humanitarian personnel. Parties will impose cumbersome registration processes for humanitarian programming and activities, or criminalize certain activities necessary for the conduct of humanitarian operations. Violence against, or the detention or abduction of, humanitarian workers, often involving national staff, continues to impede humanitarian operations.

Yet, as the Secretary-General has stated in his 2018 report on the protection of civilians, “there are glimmers of hope. […] There are practical steps that have been, and could again be, taken by parties to conflict and Member States to respect and ensure respect for the law and enhance the protection of civilians.” For instance, States have taken steps to facilitate humanitarian assistance through domestic legislation to expedite visa processing and customs clearance for relief personnel, goods, and equipment, or to exempt relief activities from taxes, duties and fees.

Non-State armed groups have also adopted policy on humanitarian access and created structures to coordinate, facilitate, and monitor humanitarian action. In addition, humanitarian organizations regularly engage with parties to conflict to negotiate context-specific arrangements, such as “days of tranquility” to carry out vaccinations, or allow the medical evacuation of critically ill patients. De-confliction arrangements, by which humanitarian actors convey the timing and location of relief activities to parties to the conflict, can help to ensure that military operations do not interfere with or harm the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Moreover, third States have taken steps to ensure that parties to armed conflict facilitate humanitarian assistance and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL).

This working session will examine some good policy and practice by State and non-State parties to armed conflict, humanitarian organizations, and third States to respect and ensure respect for IHL in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Financing to leave no one behind


In DRC, it is estimated that two million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. In the Kasai region alone, malnutrition affects 400,000 children under the age of 5. Credit: OCHA/Gemma Cortes

One in every 70 people worldwide is caught up in a crisis. And crises, driven by conflict, tend to last longer. So even if the world is richer, people in crises are being left behind.

In 2019, nearly 132 million people across the world will need humanitarian assistance. In 2019, the UN and its partner organizations aim to assist 93.6 million of the most vulnerable with food, shelter, health care, emergency education, protection and other basic assistance, requiring $21.9 billion.

While donors continue to respond to high levels of needs with unfaltering generosity, many needs remain unmet. The average humanitarian crisis in which there is a UN-coordinated response now lasts more than nine years (link to WHDT). This is an increase from an average length of 5.2 years in 2014. This year, nearly three quarters of people targeted to receive assistance in 2018 are in countries affected by humanitarian crisis for seven years or more.

This workshop will explore the latest developments on financing in crisis contexts. The discussion will focus on key financing streams in crisis contexts, including humanitarian financing, but not limited to it. The speakers will address how to operationalize commitments from Core Responsibility 5 of the Agenda for Humanity. The workshop will draw on recommendations from participants for how we - collectively and individually – can contribute to advancing this vision.

Humanitarian-development collaboration


Bama, Borno, Nigeria, 6 October 2018 - UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner (right) with the head of the Nigeria State Emergency Management Agency (middle), speaking with a group of farmers from the border town of Banki. UN organizations are working together to help meet their immediate needs but also support their long-term recovery. Credit: OCHA/Eve Sabbagh

Many humanitarian crises have become so protracted that they seem permanent. Nineteen of the 21 humanitarian response plans presented in this overview are for humanitarian crises that have been running for five years or more. Three have had humanitarian plans and appeals each year for at least 18 years (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Somalia).

The Global Humanitarian Overview 2018 calls for a longer-term approach to addressing humanitarian needs that integrates development action, including steps to reduce people’s vulnerability to crisis, such as investing in social safety nets and livelihoods.

Strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus, overcoming long-standing attitudinal, institutional, and funding obstacles, was identified by the majority of stakeholders as a top priority for the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). In particular, the Secretary-General’s Report for the World Humanitarian Summit ‘One Humanity: Shared Responsibility’ and the accompanying Agenda for Humanity introduced the New Way of Working, highlighting the need to transcend the humanitarian-development divide by working towards ‘collective outcomes’ between humanitarian, development and other relevant actors with the main aim to reduce humanitarian needs, risks and vulnerabilities and thereby also contributing to Agenda 2030.

Since then, much operational progress has been made in several countries, where Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators (RC/HCs) are putting in place multi-stakeholder processes to identify collective outcomes and are exploring opportunities to coordinate programming and financing around these outcomes. Early lessons are emerging from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan, and other countries where humanitarian-development collaboration is being strengthened.

Advancing humaniatrian-development collaboration towards collective outcomes is a key solution for reducing humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability and in 2019, we will continue to increase joined up analysis and planning, and coordination towards collective outcomes that complements emergency assistance, but also addressed vulnerability, so as to support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the GHPF, participants will tack stock of latest developments and key issues around the New Way of Working. By sharing good examples of implementing, coordinating or financing the New Way of Working in their organization or country, they will identify 2-3 priorities or recommendations for ensuring successful implementation of this approach over the next few years.