Remarks at the General Assembly: 45th Plenary Meeting, Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the UN

Samuel Vigersky
Senior Humanitarian Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 6, 2022


Thank you, Mr. President. The United States is pleased to cosponsor and join consensus on these three resolutions and reaffirms the vital function of the UN in responding to global humanitarian needs.

Last week, the UN released the Global Humanitarian Overview for 2023. Nearly 340 million people are expected to need humanitarian assistance, an all-time high. The appeal requests a staggering $51.5 billion.

Like last year, we are breaking the world’s worst records.

The world is facing an unprecedented food insecurity crisis. Countries reeling from increased hunger and malnutrition caused by COVID, conflicts, and climate shocks, now face further suffering from Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.

The world is also suffering from a catastrophic climate crisis. From flooding in Pakistan to the unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa. Families are facing impossible choices, choosing which child to feed and wondering whether they’ll survive.

And across the globe, we face a series of deadly and protracted conflicts.

On all fronts, the United States is stepping up to do the right thing and meet these urgent, global challenges.

We remain the largest single humanitarian donor, giving nearly $17 billion in humanitarian assistance in fiscal year 2022.

Since Russia launched its premeditated, unprovoked, and full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the United States has provided more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance to support those displaced, including refugees, and other vulnerable populations inside Ukraine and in the region.

In response to the global food insecurity crisis, we have committed nearly $11 billion since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In May, the United States introduced a roadmap for global food insecurity. More than 100 member states have already supported the Roadmap.

We continue to scale assistance for drought response in the Horn of Africa. We’ve doubled funding our commitments there to more than $2 billion this fiscal year.

Extremely high levels of food insecurity are driving humanitarian need in Afghanistan, where the United States is proud to be the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance.

Conflicts account for over 80 percent of humanitarian needs globally.

In addition to Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, protracted violence in Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and South Sudan have driven humanitarian needs through the roof.

The parties to the violence are failing to help their citizens.

Warmongers are choosing violence over peace, corruption over prosperity, personal gain over protection of human rights.

The answer is not more violence. We need political solutions.

As President Biden has said, we must engage in relentless diplomacy.

We need to engage more effectively in diplomatic negotiations regionally and globally, bilaterally and multilaterally, in our capitols and at the UN, to bring parties together and end these conflicts.

In the meantime, we must defend those doing the difficult, dangerous, and necessary humanitarian work.

The United States is proud to co-sponsor the resolution on the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and the protection of UN personnel.

We are deeply concerned by the increase in safety and security incidents affecting all humanitarian personnel, especially locally recruited personnel.

For the first time, the resolution recognizes the increasing threat of disinformation campaigns that undermine in UN and humanitarian organizations and put aid workers at risk.

The United States remains concerned over the continued obstruction of humanitarian access by parties to conflict and attacks on humanitarian workers.

In Ethiopia, we are glad to see recent improvement in humanitarian access. But the persistent presence of Eritrean forces and bureaucratic impediments are still impeding aid to vulnerable populations in need, including survivors of widespread gender-based violence.

In Yemen, the long-term solution to the food insecurity crisis is lasting peace. We must do more to press all parties to the conflict, especially the Houthis, to comply with international humanitarian law.

In Syria, attacks by the Assad regime have killed humanitarian personnel and destroyed their facilities. The Assad regime continues to impede the flow of humanitarian aid to people in need around the country.

Across all conflicts, we must promote accountability, consistent with international law.

This means we must continue our longstanding work to keep the humanitarian consequences of the crises in Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and elsewhere on the Security Council agenda.

The United States has also proudly enhanced the understanding of what is permissible under UN sanctions, and minimized unintended negative impacts, especially on the flow of humanitarian assistance.

For example, Secretary Blinken announced an initiative in September to carve-out humanitarian activities across both U.S. and UN sanctions regimes.

We have also been focused on preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.

We must prioritize and strengthen our collective efforts to implement prevention and risk mitigation strategies.

We must provide support to survivors. We must enhance reporting mechanisms and hold perpetrators to account. And we must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

We can and should do everything we can to live up to our highest aspirations.

That means advancing management reforms, across UN agencies, to improve humanitarian outcomes for affected populations.

That means providing more financial and diplomatic support to those actors seeking to help people trapped in conflict.

And it means doing everything in our power to forge political solutions, hold bad actors to account, and push for permanent peace.

Before I conclude, I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm that resolutions are non-binding documents. They do not create or affect rights or obligations under international law. We refer you to our general statement delivered to the 77th General Assembly Second Committee session.

Thank you.