Extremely high levels of humanitarian need, driven mainly by armed conflicts, are generating enormous suffering and displacement that will continue in 2019. That was the word from the UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock who spoke at the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview for 2019 in Geneva.
The overview is a report focused on humanitarian data and finds that humanitarian crises have been increasing in number and duration. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of crises receiving an internationally-led response almost doubled from 16 to 30.
Lowcock, who is the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, says, “One of the big takeaways for me from this year analysis is we need to make it a bigger priority in 2019 to address the underlining causes of crisis: insecurity, conflict, poverty, development failures, inadequate adaptation and resilience to climate change and other disasters. Humanitarian needs will remain extremely high. Something like 132 million people in 42 countries around the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection. Most of those needs occur in long-lasting crisis where there has been limited progress in addressing the root cause.”
The figures tell a story by themselves – some 16.2 million people were newly displaced by conflict and violence in 2017 alone. This amounts to 44-thousand people being forced from their homes every day. An additional 19 million people were displaced by natural disasters, as Lowcock explains.
“Something like one person in 70 around the world is caught up in crisis and urgently needs humanitarian help or protection. We have a larger number of people displaced, mostly by conflict than we have seen in the world before, nearly 70 million.”
Syria tops the list of countries with people internally displaced by conflict with 6.8 million followed by Colombia, the DRC, Sudan and Iraq. But the crisis in Yemen is a growing and grave concern moving into the new-year.
“The country with the biggest problem in 2019 is going to be Yemen. We think that 24 million people in Yemen, that is 75 percent of the population, will need humanitarian assistance. The UN is planning to meet the needs of 15 million people. Our appeal for Yemen is going to be for 4 billion USD. When you look at all humanitarian agencies, fund raising for 2018 will be at a record level, something we think like about 22 billion and that compares with 21,5 billion in 2017.”
The Global overview finds that in the absence of political solutions to longstanding crises, these trends are likely to continue.