The report describes the major humanitarian trends and challenges over the past year and analyses two thematic issues: the need to reduce vulnerability and manage risks and the need to promote humanitarian innovation. The report provides an overview of current efforts to improve humanitarian coordination and response, as well as recommendations for further improvement.
Humanitarian needs exacerbated by civil unrest, human rights violations and conflict during the reporting period are a reminder of the increasingly complex and difficult operating environment in which humanitarian assistance must be delivered and the need for greater adherence to humanitarian principles, timely access to affected populations and better protection of civilians.
The global number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting from armed conflict and generalized violence at the end of 2012 was estimated at 28.8 million, an increase from 26.4 million reported in 2011 and the highest figure ever recorded by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. An estimated 2.1 million IDPs were able to return home in 2012; however, around 6.5 million people were newly displaced — almost twice as many as in 2011. Some 17.7 million IDPs were being protected and/or assisted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the end of 2012. More than 1.1 million people became refugees in the course of 2012, the highest number in more than a decade. The number of refugees under the mandate of UNHCR stood at 10.5 million at the end of 2012.
The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters recorded 310 disasters in 2012, which claimed an estimated 9,300 lives, affected 106 million people and caused over $138 billion in damages. The significant decrease in the number of people affected from 2011 can be partly explained by the lack of a “mega” natural disaster in 2012. Despite the decrease in fatalities, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, an estimated 32.4 million people in 82 countries were newly displaced by natural disasters, almost double the number from 2011. It was also the third consecutive year for economic disaster losses to have exceeded $100 billion.
As in previous years, there has been an increase in demand for humanitarian assistance, while the operating environment for delivering such assistance becomes more complex. Humanitarian responders are more numerous and diverse, affected States, regional organizations and neighbouring countries have increased their capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies, and technological advances are providing a voice to affected people and changing the nature of how assistance is provided. It will be essential over the coming years for the international system to find ways to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by this new environment and how to respond more effectively to its challenges and demands.