Mr. Hussain Azhaan Mohamed Hussain, Third Secretary
At the Plenary on Agenda item 69 (a)-(d): Strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
6 December 2022
Thank you, Mr. President.
At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his insightful reports on this agenda item. The global community is witnessing the concurrent effects of armed conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, these factors have created a challenging global context. As a result, this agenda item is more important now than ever.
The Secretary General’s report underscores disturbing trends in human rights abuses, displacement, climate crisis, and food insecurity. These humanitarian concerns must be addressed with urgency. Our multilateral system must continue to play a central role by following a “no-one-left-behind” approach. Indeed, vulnerable groups are disproportionally impacted in this challenging global context.
As discussed in the Secretary General’s report, in 2021, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance rose to unprecedented levels. Therefore, effective coordination and financial support for those in need of humanitarian assistance are essential to maximize the help that our strained humanitarian systems provide.
We invite the international community to pause and learn from the lessons of the past, as well as address the root causes of humanitarian crises. If we do not learn from history, then history will repeat itself. To break this vicious cycle, active prevention is vital. This is especially true in regards to climate change. Climate change poses an existential threat to many Small Island Developing States, such as the Maldives. It is also one of the main causes for growing humanitarian crises across the globe. As noted in the Secretary-General’s report, 90% of refugees come from countries that are among the most vulnerable and the least ready to adapt to climate change.
Globally, by 2050, approximately 1 billion people are projected to be at risk from coastal-specific climate hazards. In my country, the Maldives, where most of our land area is less than one meter above sea level, even a minimal sea level rise will have devastating effects. Our low-lying islands are already exposed, and are increasingly vulnerable to a number of hazards exacerbated by climate change. Such hazards include coastal erosion, frequent monsoon flooding, and intense sea surges.
Climate disasters can affect any country, at any time. This reality requires us to take urgent and effective action to address what is a universal threat. Just this year, after record-breaking rains in Pakistan, severe floods took nearly 2,000 lives and displaced more than 30 million people. In Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, resulted in catastrophic loss and damage in North and Central America. Across the Horn of Africa, in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia humanitarian emergencies caused by acute drought affected an approximate 36.1 million people. Lastly, Tropical Cyclone Dovi is estimated to have caused over USD 80 million in damages to parts of New Zealand and Vanuatu.
These disasters highlight the need for support to developing countries, especially small island developing states, such as the Maldives, to address the loss and damage that we face. This is why we applaud the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund for vulnerable countries at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh. This is a historic achievement. We must utilise this momentum, to finalise the technical details and ensure the prompt and urgent operationalisation of this Fund. We urge all Parties to work together to ensure that this Fund is able to address the immediate and urgent need for small island developing states, and other vulnerable developing countries, to address the devastating impacts of climate change.
In the context of extreme exposure and our particular vulnerabilities, SIDS face a heightened risk for humanitarian crises. Therefore, we will continue to advocate for finalizing and implementing a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index. An MVI will allow realistic assessments and awareness of the risks that SIDS face and aid in our efforts to avoid humanitarian crises.
The Maldives would also like to express its concerns regarding the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Secretary-General’s report notes that across the occupied Palestinian territory, 2.1 million people remained vulnerable to humanitarian disasters. In April, an outbreak of violence increased people’s aid dependency as well as their reliance on negative coping strategies to address basic needs. Urgent humanitarian crises derive from illegal settlements, threats of annexation, and demolitions of Palestinian homes. Such threats are in direct conflict with the core principles of the United Nations Charter and must be addressed with firm resolve from the international community.
Once again, the Maldives reaffirms its long-standing and steadfast commitment to support the Palestinian people’s struggle for sovereignty, independence, and self-determination. The only viable solution is the establishment of an independent and sovereign State of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
We call for redoubling our collective efforts towards ensuring global relief for those facing dire humanitarian crises and to relieving our strained humanitarian systems. Robust cooperation and multilateralism are vital to effectively addressing these challenges, protecting the most vulnerable populations, and building a better world for future generations.
I thank you.