UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Over 80 percent of humanitarian funding requested by the United Nations is going toward life-saving needs in a growing number of global conflicts, and urgent action is needed to shift away from perpetual crisis management, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.
Ahead of the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, the U.N. chief called for “far greater global leadership” to prevent and end conflicts that are overwhelming aid organizations and driving millions of people from their homes.
According to Ban’s report, 120 million people currently need humanitarian aid at a cost of $19.5 billion, an all-time high. Yet, despite record contributions, the gap between funds needed and donated widened “to a staggering 47 percent — $9.3 billion — in 2015,” it said.
The U.N. chief said the world has a shared responsibility to close the gap, which ought to be possible in a $78 trillion global economy. He quoted an estimate from the Institute for Economics and Peace that the economic and financial cost of conflict and violence in 2014 was $14.3 trillion.
Conflicts are more complex today, Ban said, but the human cost is more devastating.
“The brutality of today’s armed conflicts and the utter lack of respect for the fundamental rules of international humanitarian law … threaten to unravel 150 years of achievements, and to regress to an era of war without limits,” Ban warned.
He stressed that the answer lies not in humanitarian assistance and deployment of peacekeepers but in getting world leaders “to take far greater ownership of political solutions to existing conflicts and to preventing new ones.”
Ban also urged leaders to put much greater focus on reducing risks from natural disasters and climate change, saying this saves lives.
“We must ensure no one in conflict, no one in chronic poverty, and no one living with the risk of natural hazards and rising sea levels is left behind,” he said. “We need to show the millions of people living in conflict — with chronic needs and constant fear — the solidarity that they deserve and expect.”
And he called for a global campaign to demand greater compliance with international humanitarian law.
“Enough is enough,” Ban told the U.N. General Assembly at a meeting launching his report. “Even wars have rules. It is time to enforce them.”
The U.N. chief also urged leaders at the upcoming Istanbul summit to commit to reduce the 38 million people currently internally displaced within their home countries by at least 50 percent by 2030.
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