UN Launches Record Humanitarian Appeal, Calls for Common EU Approach
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched a record appeal for humanitarian relief funding of US$22.2 billion to meet relief needs in 33 countries in 2017.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called on European countries to adopt a common approach to its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

5 December 2016: The UN has launched a record appeal for funding of US$22.2 billion to meet humanitarian relief needs in 33 countries in 2017. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), meanwhile, is calling on European countries to adopt a common approach to its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

Launching the relief appeal, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) highlighted that the world is facing a state of crisis not seen since World War II. The amount of funds being asked for is based on humanitarian response plans in 33 countries, which aim to reach 93 million people. OCHA reports that 128 million people around the world are currently affected by conflict, displacement, natural disasters and other problems, including the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan. In 2016, the UN received just over half of what was asked for in humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian work is increasingly complex in countries where access for aid delivery has become difficult.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien launched the ‘Global Humanitarian Overview 2017’ report in Geneva, Switzerland, in tandem with the relief appeal. The report outlines the issues in trouble spots around the world, noting that humanitarian work is increasingly complex in countries where access for aid delivery has become difficult. Besides conflict and disasters, the report also covers areas where aid is required due to food insecurity and extreme malnutrition, and highlights that some countries – Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal – will be implementing transitional Humanitarian Action Plans to promote development and build resilience.

Also on 5 December, Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, addressed the European Policy Centre in Brussels, Belgium on the topic, ‘Protecting Refugees in Europe and Beyond: Can the EU Rise to the Challenge?’ Over one million people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe during 2015 and early 2016, fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

Grandi urged the EU to stay true to its founding values of cooperation and sharing of responsibility, and outlined UNHCR’s proposals for improving refugee handling in Europe and rebuilding trust in the multilateral system. He highlighted that UNCHR is calling for: a common registration system for all refugee arrivals to Europe; ending the detention of unaccompanied and separated children, and improving family tracing; implementing a speedier and more rational system for resettling refugees and returning individuals with unfounded claims; greater investment in preparing for future influxes of refugees and migrants; and early investment in integration programmes, including employment, housing and language training. These measures are presented in detail in UNHCR’s report, titled ‘Better Protecting Refugees in the EU and Globally.’ In a press release, UNHCR noted that the system builds on elements of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and some reforms proposed by the European Commission.

Observing that Europe has failed to make a collective response to the large influx of arrivals over the past year, Grandi called on Member States to adopt a new vision for engagement with the global refugee crisis, drawing on its history of tolerance and openness, and based on protection principles. [UN Press Release on Humanitarian Appeal] [OCHA Press Release on Humanitarian Appeal] [Global Humanitarian Overview 2017] [UN Press Release on UNHCR Proposal] [UNRIC Press Release on Grandi Address] [Text of Grandi Address] [Better Protecting Refugees in Europe and Globally]

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