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OCHA Director, Operations and Advocacy Division, Reena Ghelani, remarks at the launch of the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview, Brussels, 2 December 2021

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Thank you, Director-General Michou, and thank you to DG ECHO for the great partnership, and for your strong support and thought leadership to the humanitarian cause worldwide. It’s a testament to your leadership that we are gathered once more in Brussels for today’s event.

OCHA and our Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, also look forward to engaging with you again at next month’s European Humanitarian Forum, which gives us all an important opportunity to continue dialogue on pertinent issues, including expanding the resource base and closing the funding gap, which are the focus of our discussions today.

The European Commission provides global leadership in strengthening the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance and advocating for those most in need. Europe gives hope to millions of people.

Before opening our discussion, let me present the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview, fresh of the press. The message of this year’s Global Humanitarian Overview is urgent.

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

That is one in 29 people in the world. This marks a doubling of requirements in just four years. And the needs 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.

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 on the edge of famine.

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 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, killer diseases, gender-based violence and economic collapse. It lays out detailed plans to meet needs in food security and nutrition; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; gender equality; 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.

Thanks to donors’ contributions, 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 to 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.

This year, we also made progress in important areas and on multiple fronts.

We saw improved collaboration between international agencies and local responders on the front lines, which is an area we all need to build on.

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 efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.

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

We need to keep up the momentum on all of these issues.

Despite high levels of contributions this year – which totaled $17.2 billion, or 46 per cent of requirements – the $20.5 billion gap between requirements and funding is the highest ever.

We know that climate change compounds the humanitarian funding gap. We need to do more to accelerate and expand actions to address escalating climate risks and disaster impacts.

In the humanitarian system, we will continue to strengthen preparedness, scale up anticipatory action, and respond earlier and faster. These efforts need to be complemented with increased investment in prevention, adaptation and risk- informed sustainable development.

We will continue to respond to immediate needs as well as to manage underlying conditions in any specific humanitarian context.

Working together to find and fund solutions is the only way to deal with the challenges we face. In today’s event, we will interact with a distinguished panel that will discuss expanding the resource base and addressing funding gaps as crucial ways to respond to growing humanitarian needs, including those driven by climate change.

Funding for the GHO is a benchmark of our global solidarity to save lives, reduce suffering and give hope to millions of the most vulnerable people in need.

Let us look today at potential initiatives – solutions that could help diversify and expand the resource base but also share the responsibility and build new partnerships in addressing those needs.

Let us act together – for the people we serve and, ultimately, for all of us. Thank you.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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