ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment
Statement by His Excellency Mr Ahmed Sareer
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the UN
New York, 27 June 2016
Mr. President, Excellencies, and Delegates,
My delegation welcomes you for convening this segment on humanitarian affairs. We commend the Secretary General for his report which underscores the importance of enhancing humanitarian action in the age of the 2030 Agenda and the commitment to the Agenda's core principle of leaving no one behind. The Maldives strongly agrees with the Secretary General's call for greater efforts to prevent crises in the first place and reduce people 's needs, risk and vulnerability over time.
We live in at a time of unprecedented humanitarian crises – sixty-five million people are refugees, internally displaced or seeking asylum, five million more than a year ago. Natural disasters are striking at a faster pace, increasing in intensity and wiping away years of development within mere seconds. Protracted crises have become the new norm, with millions of peoples lives torn apart and robbed of their right to a life of dignity. The numbers are staggering. We must not forget: these are not simply numbers. They are children, women and men – to whom we have a responsibility. Collective action and determination at the highest political level is essential to change the course of the current humanitarian crises. We must build on the political momentum created following the adoption of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the more recent commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit.
While the United Nations, its member states, civil society and the world at large have been working diligently to mitigate the contributing effect of conflict on the current humanitarian crisis, there is a clear gap between an acceptable level of conflict resolution and the current levels achieved. Without clear political commitment to address the root causes of conflict, sustainable conflict resolution strategies will not bear fruit. It is important that the conflict prevention and resolution methods utilized are not short term solutions, but a long-term and sustainable strategy. Leadership begins with the commitment to effectively addressing key root causes of conflict, to using political leverage to address long standing grievances and discrimination and is required at all stages of a conflict cycle. We do not know that without addressing the root causes, conflicts tend to re-emerge and prolong the suffering of those impacted.
We know that the adverse effects of climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of the natural disasters. We also know that the impact of natural disasters is long lasting and deadly. I myself witnessed this when the Maldives was struck by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. The Maldives is one of the world's smallest and lowest lying countries. Our population of 350,000 is spread over 187 geographically dispersed islands. Our unique geography makes us extremely vulnerable to environmental disasters, of which the damage can be catastrophic, as seen by the Tsunami of 2004. In addition to colossal socioeconomic damage to the country, Maldives suffered immense environmental destruction including substantial soil erosion, and damages to the very thin layer of freshwater in the islands. The recurrence of such a disaster remains an existential threat to Maldives. The Government of Maldives has therefore, always placed a high priority on mainstreaming environmental sustainability and environmental protection in the national development planning process.
In the collective efforts of the world to provide aid to the 125 million people requiring humanitarian assistance, a strong framework built on reducing humanitarian needs disaster preparedness, risk reduction, and conflict prevention is essential. Building and strengthening resilience at the local, national and regional levels is essential to reducing the impact of disasters and vulnerabilities to hazards. The Maldives also recognizes that building resilience is a long term development strategy which is people centered and sustainable. It is also important to recognize that humanitarian assistance endeavors should be aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to understand that without sustainable development there can be no sustainable peace.
We also welcome the Secretary-General's Climate Resilience Initiative — Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape, targeted at vulnerable countries such as the Maldives. The Maldives calls on member states and stakeholders to assist vulnerable communities to strengthen their ability to anticipate hazards, absorb shocks, and reshape development to reduce climate risks. There is no doubt that efforts of vulnerable states and regions can be immeasurably bolstered by the experience, expertise and financial assistance of the international community.
The Maldives is committed to doing our part in building national and regional resilience to disaster and humanitarian crises. However, as a Small Island Developing State, we are in need of financial, technical and capacity support of the international community to reinforce our efforts. We urge all member states and stakeholders to work together to realizing the sustainable goals of 2030 and to do their parts in ensuring that indeed, no one is left behind.