The outlook for global humanitarian operations is “very, very bleak,” a top United Nations humanitarian official warned today saying that “it’s been a rapid deterioration through 2014 and sadly, as we move forward we’re expecting to face a tough year in 2015.”
“When we look back at where we were this time last year we had about 52 million people in humanitarian need and we are now ending the year with over 76 million people,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Director of Operations John Ging told UN Radio.
The cost of responding to that has grown by a similar rate from about $12.9 billion in 2013 up to $19.2 billion dollars right now, Mr. Ging added.
“The poor people who are affected by the crisis…are losing their lives in the hundreds of thousands, in the millions, in fact. And with tens of millions really subsisting in terrible misery and inhumane conditions, they certainly can’t afford for this situation to continue,” he said.
These people are relying on the generosity of those who have the means to help them. And while there are no clear indicators for optimism, it is important to stay hopeful, he said.
“We have to work to see an end to so many of these conflicts which have been raging on and intensifying. They are manmade conflicts so they can be ended. There is a basis there for progress if we can find a way to find political solutions.”
Mr. Ging stressed that 2014 was a very difficult as well as dangerous year for aid workers.
“Sadly we have lost 85 colleagues so far this year in over 230 attacks on humanitarian workers. It’s very frustrated for humanitarian workers to be out there on the frontlines, underfunded facing the inhumanity and suffering, unable to deliver the assistance that people urgently need.”
“But they just continue to do a heroic job. There’s no choice. We have to keep going and not give up. And the fact that they don’t give up and that they do keep going saves tens of millions of lives and reduces suffering,” he said.
When asked about why some crises get more attention than others, Mr. Ging said that it is a duty to treat all people equally in terms of support. But he admitted that it is easier said than done because political attention is often focused on some of the more politically important crises.
“There are places, for example, across the Sahel where 572,000 children died last year, malnourished, suffering from diseases that could be cured or prevented. There is a scale of suffering in so many places that I think the world has become quite numb in a way.”
Certainly, it is difficult to gain media attention for such a broad scale of disaster across the world, Mr. Ging said.
“Our job is to somehow work to raise that profile. And make sure that the way we do our humanitarian action we are focused on people and not the media spotlight and any other drivers of attention.”