22 September 2020

Deputy Secretary-General Urges Support to Fragile Countries amid COVID-19, Calls for Long-Term Transition Out of Crises, at World Humanitarian Forum

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message at the World Humanitarian Forum’s hybrid summit, held today:

As the United Nations turns 75 and as we enter a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, we face an unprecedented threat.  As the world faces the devastating and wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, the United Nations and our partners must continue to stand with the most vulnerable people — the displaced, refugees, migrants and people caught in conflicts or natural disasters.

United Nations entities and our humanitarian partners have delivered life-saving aid to more than 250 million people.  But we need you to help us do even more.  We are appealing for funds to help 63 low-income and fragile countries respond to and recover from the pandemic.  Yet we have received less than one third of what is urgently needed.

The United Nations COVID-19 socioeconomic response fund is also underfunded, when we all know there is no way out of this crisis without investing in our long-term vision of transition out of humanitarian crisis.  This means addressing the needs of the billions of lives, including those of young people that have been disrupted, in education, basic social services and livelihoods.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, South Sudan, north-east Nigeria and the Sahel region face the possibility of famine.  We are also seeing an alarming rise in domestic violence, hate speech and other pandemic-related human rights violations.  Meanwhile, conflicts continue and climate change is worsening.  We risk reverting the gains made towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

We will only break the cycle of risk and vulnerability by joining forces behind coherent, coordinated and integrated approaches.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development remains our agreed road map for addressing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.  The Sustainable Development Goals are our best tools for prevention and, with concerted action and political will, we can not only survive this crisis but thrive as we recover better.

I would like to highlight three steps going forward.  First, align decision-making during the response and recovery.  We need to bring together the development and humanitarian communities, and — in certain country contexts — the peace actors.  This is not only about responding to the current emergency, but rather about dealing with its root causes and ensuring that we are better prepared to recover and address future crises.  United Nations reforms reflect this imperative.

Second, we need to work closely with Governments to mobilize and align a wide range of financing sources — public and private, domestic and international.  Third, we need to keep updating and adapting the way we work.  The crisis has exposed the flaws in many of our capacity approaches and assumptions as we respond to a different more complex set of challenges.  It underscored the need for better social protection, economic transactions, universal health care access, effective governance and strong institutions.  It put a spotlight on the dramatic gaps in our road towards a future of peace, dignity and sustainable development.

Let us turn today's challenge into an opportunity to get things right for the future.  We have the tools and knowledge and we have a fully engaged youth.  What we need is the spirit of “can do” leadership to deliver.  Together, we can turn the tide, save lives, recover better and build a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world for everyone everywhere.

For information media. Not an official record.