The present report has been prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution 46/182, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report annually to the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council on the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance. The report is also submitted in response to Assembly resolution 72/133 and Economic and Social Council resolution 2017/14. The period covered by the report is 1 January to 31 December 2017.
The report provides an overview of efforts to improve humanitarian coordination and response as well as major humanitarian trends, challenges and measures taken regarding famine and the risk of famine, severe food insecurity, climate-related shocks, international humanitarian law and human rights law, forced displacement and financing and enhancing humanitarian action in the age of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the commitment to leave no one behind.
A. Overview of key trends
Humanitarian emergencies fuelled by conflicts and disasters associated with natural hazards once again drove humanitarian needs to a new high in 2017. At the end of the year, 135.7 million people needed humanitarian assistance, and humanitarian funding requirements peaked at $23.5 billion. 1 Humanitarian organizations responded by targeting a record number of 101.2 million people to receive aid, saving millions of lives, reducing suffering and promoting human dignity.
Food insecurity was a key cause of humanitarian requirements in 2017.2 Some 124 million people in 51 countries were food insecure and required urgent humanitarian action to save lives, protect livelihoods and reduce acute hunger and malnutrition, an increase from 108 million in 2016.3 Approximately 60 per cent of the world’s hungry live in countries in conflict.
Following the Secretary-General’s call to action, the international community came together to respond to and prevent famines in north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia,
South Sudan and Yemen, where nearly 15 million people received some form of lifesaving assistance. Concerted efforts are still urgently needed to reverse rising food insecurity and end the scourge of famine.
Exacerbated by climate change, extreme weather events, flooding, drought a nd other disasters destroyed lives and livelihoods and contributed to displacement across the world. The number of people affected by disasters associated with natural hazards regularly exceeds 100 million annually, with an average of 25.3 million people displaced each year since 2008. All regions experienced devastating damage as a result of natural disasters in 2017, the warmest year on record in the absence of El Niño.
Conflict continues to be a major driver of humanitarian need, with conflicts increasing significantly in number and intensity over the past 10 years. The total number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and violence reached a record 65.6 million by the end of 2016, 40.3 million of whom were internally displaced. Internal displacement is increasingly protracted, with insufficient attention paid to durable solutions. The unprecedented number of displaced persons is the result of not only conflict, but also the brutality of the parties to hostilities.
Failure to protect civilians caught in conflict has resulted in incalculable suffering. Persistent disregard for international humanitarian law and international human rights law and impunity for violations deepen humanitarian crises. Women and children are at high risk. Warfare and sieges in urban areas, the starvation of civilians as a method of war and the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects are killing and maiming non-combatants and destroying vital civilian infrastructure. The deliberate denial of humanitarian access and bureaucratic impediments to the delivery of aid are prevalent in current conflicts.
The global humanitarian system is more effective than ever before and is saving lives and protecting people on a scale never previously achieved. Principled humanitarian action and international coordination of humanitarian aid in accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/182 remain critical. However, the humanitarian system remains under strain. The gap between needs and available funding grew during the year. Despite the increased generosity of donors, humanitarian response plans and appeals were only 58.9 per cent funded;4 it is critical they be funded fully.