Highest UN humanitarian appeal falls on deaf ears

On Thursday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) appealed to the great powers for a record $ 41 billion to help the 183 million people most in need of life-saving aid.

This is a big increase from the $ 35 billion requested for 2021 and double the amount requested just four years ago. It is needed by some 63 countries, or nearly a third of the 193 member states of the United Nations, most of which emerged after national liberation movements took over from the colonial powers that had previously ruled them.

Speaking at a press conference at the launch of the appeal on Thursday, OCHA chief and emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths stressed that the number of people in need “has never been as high “. He said: “The climate crisis is hitting the world’s most vulnerable people first and worst. Protracted conflicts persist and instability has worsened in several parts of the world, including Ethiopia, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

The worse is yet to come.

OCHA Global Humanitarian Overview 2022 report, published the same day, draws on the work of 37 agencies, including various United Nations agencies and international aid organizations. He said 274 million people around the world will need some form of emergency assistance next year, up 17% from a record 235 million in 2021. One in 29 people out of 7.9 billion people in the world will need help in 2022, up 250% from 2015, when one in 95 people needed help.

In this photo from Sunday, June 14, 2020, Issa Ibrahim Nasser, seven months, is brought to a clinic in Deir Al-Hassi. At seven months, Issa weighs only three kilos. Like him, hundreds of children suffer from severe acute malnutrition due to poverty and overwhelming conflict. Yemen. (AP Photo / Issa Al-Rajhi)

The report noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by vaccine inequality, has devastated economies, livelihoods, health systems and education. Screening, diagnosis and treatment for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria have declined. Prenatal visits fell 43% and 23 million children missed basic childhood vaccines in 2021. With 2.2 billion children without internet access at home, many have faced an interruption in their education .

The pandemic has increased suffering and extreme poverty, increasing again after two decades of decline, with women and young workers disproportionately affected by job losses. Some 247 million women live on less than $ 1.90 a day. Hunger is on the rise and food insecurity has reached unprecedented levels, with 811 million people (11% of the world’s population) undernourished and famine “a real and terrifying possibility in 43 countries”.

Political conflicts have hit civilians hard. More than 1% of the world’s population is now displaced, 42% of which are children. Millions of internally displaced people (IDPs) live in camps or in conditions of poverty in cities for long periods of time, unable to return to their homes.

Humanitarian needs are by far the greatest in the Middle East and Africa, thanks to wars provoked, fueled and paid for by imperialist powers in search of access to raw materials and markets for the benefit of the companies they represent. . The priority of the local oligarchies is to remain competitive for foreign investment, while continuing to pay the debt to the financial vultures, expanding their armed forces and suppressing the revolutionary efforts of the working class and the poor peasants.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 45 million people are at risk of famine in dozens of countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan at the top of the list. In Afghanistan, more than 24 million people are in urgent need of assistance following four decades of war and now the worst drought in 27 years.

Syria, which has endured more than 10 years of a US-led war to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, faces a commodity shortage amid horribly damaged infrastructure. Average household spending exceeds income by 50% compared to 20% in August 2020.

In Yemen, at war since Saudi Arabia, aided and abetted by the United States, Britain and regional powers, invaded its impoverished southern neighbor in April 2015, 16.2 million of the 30 million residents are facing severe food shortages. Even with humanitarian aid, 40 percent of the population does not have enough food.

In Ethiopia, 25.9 million of its 118 million people are in need of assistance following the war in Tigray and other parts of the country, drought and disease intensify, and many of the 4 , 2 million internally displaced people in the country seek refuge in towns and villages from social and economic pressures. In South Sudan, 8.4 million of its 11 million people are in need, due to the ongoing civil war since Sudan’s independence in 2011 and three years of flooding and disease.

In addition to the Middle East and Africa, the demand for humanitarian assistance from Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean has increased. The situation in Myanmar deteriorated dramatically in the wake of last February’s military coup and pandemic, with 14.4 million of the country’s 55 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In Haiti, 43% of the population is in need of assistance, following the earthquake of last August which affected 800,000 people, in addition to the even more devastating earthquake in 2010; the pandemic and the deteriorating economic situation.

Despite the dire need, funding for 2022 will not be available. This year’s OCHA appeal raised just $ 17 billion, less than half of the amount requested, with the 10 most underfunded emergencies receiving less than half of what was needed, resulting in reductions in food rations and vital health services. Griffiths acknowledged this when he said, “We realize that we are not going to get the $ 41 billion, although we are going to try.” He did not explain why this was so or the consequences for the poorest people in the world.

It is not as if there are no resources available. The richest billionaires in the world saw their wealth increase astronomically last year and could easily foot the full bill. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the net worth of Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla and the richest person in the world as of December 2021 is $ 311 billion, while that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is 201 billion. of dollars. Yet the governments of the world refuse to tax them or their ilk.

This leaves OCHA dependent on appeals to donor countries which are increasingly unsuccessful.

Its parent body and the United Nations humanitarian agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was established in 1950 with the 1951 Convention on Human Rights and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. to respond to the tens of millions of forcibly displaced refugees. and the post-World War II statelessness crisis, in the political context of the Cold War. Then, popular revulsion in the face of the Holocaust aligned itself with Washington’s strategic interests by asserting its world hegemony, containing the influence of the Stalinist regime in Moscow and above all by suppressing the threat of a social revolution in Moscow. global scale.

Nevertheless, UNHCR and the agencies it created in the 1990s, such as OCHA after the collapse of the Soviet Union, have always been funded on an ad hoc basis.

His approach was based mainly on helping people in camps and defending the right to seek asylum anywhere except in imperialist centers. This set the stage for a global refugee regime, providing the model for responding to the multiple crises of the 1960s in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe in the context of the Cold War.

Today, the majority of internally displaced people do not reside in camps, while the right to asylum is disappearing.

OCHA’s call and report fell on deaf ears. Indeed, the agency pointed to the total bankruptcy of its appeal. Admitting that it had no solutions to the crisis, OCHA said: “Humanitarian aid cannot provide a solution to protracted crises while such a shortage of funds persists.

There was no mention of the call in the world press, testifying to the degree to which famine and misery is not only normalized but is becoming the politics of choice – a weapon in the hands of the great imperialist powers who speak for their businesses and their finances. oligarchs and their puppet regimes in the poorest countries of the world.

Washington now regularly uses sanctions and secondary sanctions to exert “maximum pressure” on Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and its allies in Syria and Lebanon, to name a few, with the aim of bringing them down. force to follow his line. Israel has blocked Gaza for over 14 years; Saudi Arabia besieged Yemen for six years and the Ethiopian government is blocking the rebel province of Tigray to starve and subdue them.

The words of Bani Adam, The Children of Adam, the poem written in the thirteenth century by Sa’adi, is inscribed on a wall carpet donated by Tehran in the United Nations building in New York. They read:

beings are members of a whole,

In the creation of an essence and a soul.

If a limb is in pain,

Other concerned members will stay.

If you have no sympathy for human pain,

The human name you can’t remember!

The workers must understand that putting an end to such inhumanity means waging a political struggle against imperialist militarism and the systematic expropriation of the planet’s wealth by the business and financial elite. Everywhere, entire populations have been exploited and forced into poverty, while countries with precious resources have come under military assault. The struggle is not to reform the capitalist system but to overthrow it as part of a global struggle for the socialist reorganization of society based on human need and not on profit.

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