Top UN Humanitarian Aid Laments the Lack of Dialogue to Resolve Conflicts – Global Issues


“I leave this job feeling unfulfilled because the world is a worse place now than when I joined in 2021,” Martin Griffiths said in his final briefing to journalists as UN Humanitarian and Emergency Response Coordinator.

He said the international community does not resolve conflicts through dialogue, as proposed in the US almost 80 years ago UN Charter. ‘Classical political diplomacy’ has all but disappeared and impunity is widespread.

Meanwhile, humanitarian workers on the ground are “gathering support where they can, but they are not the rescuers,” he said. “The saviors of this world are people who end wars and build peace.”

Funding shortage

Mr Griffiths said around 300 million people worldwide need humanitarian assistance today, at a time when donor funding has been reduced.

Humanitarians are aiming for roughly $49 billion to reach about 188 million people this year, but have received only $8 billion so far.

“Halfway through the year it has never been as difficult and as bad as it is now,” he said.

Crises and suffering

Mr Griffiths also lamented that “the limits of our attention are on these major crises – Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine – while Syria, Yemen and Haiti are places where there is still great suffering.”

He took office when Tigray in Ethiopia was “the crisis of the day”. Even now, the death toll from the war is unclear, he noted estimated at over 200,000.

“Tigray was a terrible, terrible time, and we haven’t talked about it lately. And yet there is speculation about famine there,” he said.

Hope in Afghanistan is gone

The Tigray crisis was overtaken by the situation in Afghanistan, where “the Taliban came to power in August 2021.” Around the same time, Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake “that barely made the news.”

Mr Griffiths went to the Afghan capital Kabul on behalf of the UN Secretary General to meet the new de facto leaders shortly after they took power.

“We had some hope then,” he revealed. “We did have some written commitments at that time about how we could move forward with the Taliban. And those hopes have been dashed.”

He said the Taliban’s edicts against women and girls “have come one after another,” but that international engagement on behalf of the Afghan people continues.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine followed in February 2022, “and everything that told us about disasters, and needs, and displacement, and human trafficking, and sexual abuse, and crisis, and the destruction of systems that protected people for generations,” he said. .

“And that was then replaced by Gaza and Sudan.”

Martin Griffiths, United Nations Emergency Response Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, in Irpin, Ukraine on April 7, 2022.

© UNOCHA/Saviano Abreu

Martin Griffiths, United Nations Emergency Response Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, in Irpin, Ukraine on April 7, 2022.

‘Humanitarian diplomacy’ is on the rise

Looking back on his career, Mr Griffiths said he has noticed “what humanitarian diplomacy has been like obliged to come to the fore in the absence of much political diplomacy because of the divisive geopolitics we face today.”

He expressed pride in the UN’s use of humanitarian diplomacy and mediation to achieve the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2022 during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The deal to export Ukrainian grain and Russian food and fertilizers to international markets, which would boost global food security, ended the following year after Russia’s withdrawal.

“Humanitarian diplomacy is both an opportunity for us to do good for the world, but in its ubiquity it is also a reminder of the absence of classical political diplomacy,” he said.

Take care of Sudan

Noting that no efforts have been made to end the war in Sudan, where the humanitarian situation has deteriorated, he expressed concern about the 800,000 people at risk in El Fasher in North Darfur, and the likelihood that five million people across the country could face famine.

I don’t think we’ve ever had so many people at risk of famine, and this was an avoidable conflict” said Mr Griffiths. “And that’s my double point here: We don’t win by ending conflict.”

While expressing hope for Yemen, he said: “That is in decline at the moment, but that is essentially because the attention and commitment to using negotiation and dialogue to end conflict is a trait, a norm, a commitment, which is now no longer an essential condition.” part of international diplomacy.”

Moreover, “the impunity associated with men’s willingness to take up arms to resolve their differences has never been greater.”

‘A bad world’

As we salute the recent UN Security Council resolution on the protection of civilians, he added “but God knows it’s a bad world.”

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