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Humanitarian outlook makes for grim reading

11 January 20240 comments

In 2024 almost 300 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection because of conflicts, climate emergencies and other events, according to a new United Nations Report.

The UN’s Global Humanitarian Overview 2024 says that $US46.5 billion will be needed to support humanitarian efforts which will especially target 180.5 million people across 72 countries through 35 appeals.

In the coming year, 74.1 million people will need assistance in east and southern Africa, representing 40 per cent of the total.

In the Middle East and North Africa, 53.8 million people will need humanitarian aid and 38.9 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The main drivers of these needs are: “conflict”, with the world experiencing more conflict which are more entrenched and more devastating for civilians; the “global climate emergency”, with the crisis spiralling and leaving a trail of destruction, and; “economic factors”, which are overlapping with conflict climate disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, the report says.

“As a result, more people are displaced now than at any other time since the beginning of the century,” the report says.

“Worldwide more than one in 73 people are displaced, a ratio which has almost doubled in the past ten years. Conflict and climate disasters remain the main factors driving displacement. Internal displacement reached its highest ever level at the end of 2022 with 71.1 million IDPs around the globe, representing a 20 per cent increase in a year.”

The number of refugees is also at a record high with 36.4 million, with over half coming from Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.

The report identifies significant risks in the coming year, including cuts to food assistance, which have already left people at risk of starvation.

It says a lack of funding for shelter has caused people to live in inadequate or undignified conditions. The report says in Haiti 300,000 people have been forced to live in such conditions or remained exposed to natural disasters.

Another risk is under-resourcing of water, sanitation and health care which has heightened the exposure of people to the risk of disease or death.

“A lack of investment in protection, including preventing and responding to gender-based violence, has left survivors of violence and violations, as well as those at greatest risk, without access to vital services,” the report says.

The UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Martin Griffiths said in the report that the current situation was a “wake up call”.

“Humanitarian assistance cannot be the entre solution; we need to share the load. It’s time for much more development and other financial investments in fragile settings and marginalised communities,” he said.

“And it’s time to redouble efforts to address root causes of humanitarian need: conflict, climate change and economic dynamics,” Mr Griffiths said.

He described 2023 as “an immensely challenging year” which began with devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey.

“In April, an intense conflict erupted in Sudan, plunging millions of people into disaster and despair. Then, in October, catastrophic war broke out in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“By the year’s end, almost 30 million more people needed humanitarian assistance than at the start. Displacement, acute food insecurity and malnutrition continued to reach historically high levels.

“And, as always, women and girls bore a disproportionate burden, suffering gender-based violence on a huge scale and persistent challenges to gender equality,” Mr Griffiths said.

But he said was the launch of the UN’s ‘Flagship Initiative’ – a three-year pilot program in four countries that aims to empower affected people and devolve more direction and decision making to the local level.

Read the full report: