Deputy UN chief highlights need to step up response to humanitarian crises in Africa

1 October 2013

The Deputy Secretary-General today stressed that the international community must address chronic humanitarian needs and crises in Africa if the continent is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before their 2015 deadline.

“Africa is particularly vulnerable to the threat posed by climate change. Droughts, floods and unpredictable weather are displacing populations, devastating areas and generating competition for scarce resources that can even lead to conflict,” Jan Eliasson said at the briefing at UN Headquarters on the work of the African Regional Economic Communities.

“These crises affect tens of millions of people every year. The poor and the most vulnerable, including women, children, and the elderly are hit hardest. Individuals are devastated and whole economies can lose hard-won progress.”

Mr. Eliasson underlined that to reach the MDGs and preserve the gains made so far, chronic crises need to be addressed by building resilience in African countries and reducing the population’s vulnerability.

The year 2015 is the deadline for achieving the MDGs, the eight anti-poverty targets agreed by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, setting specific goals on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a global partnership for development.

“Countries have primary responsibility to respond to humanitarian crises and disasters, but they need international solidarity. When we work together, we can help all States cope with the threat of disasters,” Mr. Eliasson said. “I welcome the proposals made so far to build and reinforce regional capacities.”

Mr. Eliasson said he was particularly interested in boosting the set up of early warning and early response systems in regions, countries and communities, as they have an enormous potential to save lives.

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