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Director of the Coordination Division for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Wafaa Saeed, remarks at the launch of the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview (Stockholm, 2 December 2021)

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Thank you, Kate, and to Your Excellency, Minister, for your warm welcome, and to the Swedish Government for its leadership as a role model and advocate of principled and needs-based humanitarian action and as a driving force for a more efficient and coordinated humanitarian system.

Sweden has made significant political, operational and financial commitments, and is a consistent and invaluable supporter of principled and needs-based humanitarian assistance.

I also want to thank Sweden for their longstanding support to OCHA, from its very inception until today. And we just heard from Her Excellency.

Many do not know that you helped create OCHA. You are also a key donor to OCHA’s programme and the pooled funds we manage.

In February this year, I was in northern Ethiopia and we went and visited a school and saw women and children who were displaced. I met this little boy Nathan, who told me they were displaced, and they came there because he was afraid. His heart was beating when he told me the story and I could physically see how distressed he was. He had to walk for 15 days to find safety in the school. His mother then said they were simple people, farmers, and all they want is their life back.

The numbers are staggering but behind the numbers are stories like Nathan and his mother.

Today, as we launch the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview, my goal is that this appeal can go some way to restoring a glimmer of hope for these people and many more like them.

The message of this year’s GHO is urgent.

Humanitarian needs are still rising. At the beginning of this year, already 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance. It looks like that number will rise to 274 million next year.

This marks a doubling of requirements in just four years. And these numbers will inevitably rise further as the year progresses.

To give you some sense of the scale of this challenge: if everyone requiring emergency aid lived in one country, it would be the fourth-largest country in the world.

The 2022 GHO includes the world’s largest-ever humanitarian appeal of US$4.47 billion for Afghanistan, followed closely in scale by appeals in Syria and Yemen.

The drivers of these global needs are familiar

They are conflict and political instability, the growing climate crisis, and the impact of the pandemic.

Instability worsened in several parts of the world this year, notably Ethiopia,
Myanmar and now Afghanistan, while prolonged conflicts continue.

The scale of the climate crisis means that no corner of the world is immune from intensifying weather-related shocks.

COVID-19 has already claimed at least 1.9 million lives across the countries included in this GHO, while also contributing to a rise in poverty and disrupting economies and basic services and access to health.

Countries with humanitarian emergencies remain most vulnerable to a new variant like Omicron because of their lack of vaccines and slow recovery from the shock of 2020.

Combined, these multiple forces have left 1 per cent of the world’s population forcibly displaced, and 45 million people in 43 countries are on the edge of famine in 2021.

The outlook for 2022 is grim. We are witnessing simultaneous food crises on multiple fronts, as bad as, or worse than, any situation encountered in decades.

Conflict is the leading driver of humanitarian crises, hunger and malnutrition worldwide, but now we are also witnessing climate also as a root cause of famine.
And nowhere is this more evident than southern Madagascar.

In most crises women and girls suffer the most, as pre-existing gender inequalities and protection risks are heightened.

When crises hit, communities themselves are always the first to respond on the front lines – we have to acknowledge the work of the communities themselves.

We in the international community are here to stand by in solidarity with them and to step up when help is needed.

Looking ahead, the 2022 GHO lays out how we can support 183 million of the world’s most vulnerable people, at a cost of $41 billion, which is a 17 per cent increase on last year.

It’s the world’s largest appeal to alleviate hunger and starvation, killer diseases, gender-based violence and economic collapse.

It lays out detailed plans to meet needs of people in food security and nutrition; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; supporting women and girls; protection and education; shelter; and other essential items in the hardest-hit countries.

This year, we aimed to reach 153 million people through plans at the country level.
We were able to reach 107 million of those people, or 70 per cent of our target.

The funding we did receive enabled us to provide emergency health services to tens of millions of people.

In Yemen alone, it enabled us to reach 10 million people with outpatient care.

It helped us to reach 2.4 million women and girls in 39 countries with gender-based violence services, including prevention, risk reduction and response.

It also helped us fight acute hunger in six at-risk countries: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. This included pulling over half a million people from the brink of famine in South Sudan.

And it allowed us to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in cash assistance to families in need in most emergency settings, including those struck by acute hunger, natural disasters and prolonged conflict.

In the six countries prioritized by the High-Level Task Force on Preventing Famine (OCHA, WFP, FAO), over 5.5 million people received emergency livelihoods assistance – including cash, seed packages, fishing kits, livestock feed and veterinary care – helping to reduce famine risks and restore their coping mechanisms.

This year, we also made progress in important areas.

We saw improved collaboration between international agencies and local responders on the front lines.

We ensured that humanitarian assistance targeted the needs of women and girls, and people living with disabilities, and that it supported overlooked sectors such as protection and emergency education.

And more country teams prioritized protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

In many places our advocacy and negotiation efforts to secure access paid off, though reaching people in need remains one of our biggest challenges.

We need to keep up the momentum on all these issues and I want to use this opportunity to encourage Sweden to continue lobbying and advocating for progress on these key issues.

You have led the advocacy on gender, protection, localization, strengthened needs analysis and innovations and paved the way for others to support progress in these areas.

Funding for the GHO is a benchmark of our global solidarity. So, let us restore hope – for the people we serve, and for all of us.

Thank you.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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