Speakers Stress Need to Scale Up ‘Smarter’ Humanitarian Aid as General Assembly Holds Annual Debate on Disaster, Emergency Relief
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
85th Meeting (AM)
Draft Resolutions Tabled Include Texts On Assistance to Palestinian People, Drought in Horn of Africa
Humanitarian assistance must be scaled up and made “smarter” as global emergencies continued to expand in both frequency and complexity, delegates in the General Assembly stressed today during their annual debate on the coordination of disaster relief efforts.
“The massive demands on [the humanitarian system] over the past year involve us all,” said the representative of New Zealand, recalling that in 2011, the world had grappled with volatile food and fuel prices, drought and famine in the Horn of Africa as well as other serious disasters. Many protracted and often overlooked crises continued to require international humanitarian support, he noted.
In that vein, the Assembly today took up four draft resolutions on assistance to the Palestinian people, the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, the safety and security of United Nations personnel and the protection of humanitarian personnel, and strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. However, it postponed action on those texts.
Many delegates expressed support for those texts, in particular their condemnation of targeted attacks against humanitarian workers and their emphasis on the State as the primary entity responsible for mitigating humanitarian disasters. The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, underscored the lead responsibility of concerned States to initiate, organize and implement humanitarian assistance within their respective territories.
Pakistan’s representative agreed, describing his country’s recent experience of devastating flooding, emphasizing the crucial importance of tapping alternate means of assistance, such as the procurement of local material resources. He also agreed with other delegates on the importance of building the capacity of countries most likely to be affected by humanitarian emergencies, in particular through the transfer of technology and expertise.