14 April 2017, New York – European Union Statement at the 71st United Nations General Assembly Informal Meeting: Situational briefing on the Secretary-General’s Call to Action on Famine Response and Prevention
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Thank you for convening this meeting, which bring us an opportunity to discuss a matter of paramount importance for the European Union.
As we are gathered here, famine is spreading.
The EU is deeply concerned by the unfolding humanitarian crises in North-Eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. We must respond urgently, coordinated and at scale to assist some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. We must put an end to human suffering, devastation of livelihoods, further displacement and erosion of gains towards fostering resilience and more sustainable development. It is our collective and shared responsibility.
As the world’s largest development and humanitarian aid donor, the EU is fully engaged in the response in close coordination with aid organisations and other donors. The EU is also constantly striving to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of aid delivery to ensure that more people in need receive the necessary assistance.
At the same time, the humanitarian space is shrinking as we witness gross noncompliance with International Law, including International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. To reach the affected populations, we must first of all have access. Actions, including by governments, to deny or restrict humanitarian access remain a major obstacle to an effective response. The international community needs to take a more outspoken stance to demand safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all populations in need, in compliance with relevant international law and UNSC resolutions, and the UN should take the lead in steering this forward.
But to address the root causes of these crises, we need more than humanitarian aid. So while the EU is committed to immediate life-saving action, we must learn the lessons from past crises, put people at the centre of humanitarian action, and pave the way to more sustainable responses. The recurrent and protracted nature of crises underscores the need for investment in resilience building and for joint up efforts by governments, donors and international, regional and local organizations, both public and private. While the primary responsibility for covering the basic needs of vulnerable populations remains firmly with the governments concerned, the international community needs to support these efforts. The EU reiterates its strong commitment to resilience building and to strengthening the nexus between humanitarian and development assistance, in respect of humanitarian principles.
Finally, we must not forget that today’s crises are first of all man-made. Often, years of conflict reinforce natural disaster in vicious circles. Without political solutions, those crises will continue to exacerbate existing fragile situations and will deepen the vulnerability of affected populations. And by limiting the access of these populations to aid, resources and shelter, they will further contribute to an ever growing number of internally displaced people and refugees. Therefore, above all, we need political solutions, if we are to address these famine and pre-famine situations in a sustainable manner.
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