UN / PRESERVATION HUMANITARIAN SPACE

16-Jul-2021 00:03:58
UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the Security Council the “hurricane of humanitarian crises” around the world is compounded by a “relentless wave of attacks on humanitarian and medical workers, and the imposition of ever narrower constraints on humanitarian space.” UNIFEED
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STORY: UN / PRESERVATION HUMANITARIAN SPACE
TRT: 3:58
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / FRENCH / NATS

DATELINE: 16 JULY 2021, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN headquarters exterior

16 JULY 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, Security Council
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Amina Mohammed, Deputy-Secretary-General, United Nations:
“We are in uncharted waters. The sheer scale of humanitarian needs have never been greater. The United Nations and our partners are seeking to reach 160 million people with assistance this year alone – the highest figure ever. This hurricane of humanitarian crises is compounded by a relentless wave of attacks on humanitarian and medical workers, and the imposition of ever narrower constraints on humanitarian space. The Secretary-General urges this Council to take strong and immediate action to support its numerous Resolutions on the protection of civilians, humanitarian and healthcare workers, and humanitarian space.”
4. Wide shot, delegates
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Amina Mohammed, Deputy-Secretary-General, United Nations:
“Three weeks ago, humanitarian aid workers Yohannes Halefom, María Hernández, and Tedros Gebremariam were brutally killed in Tigray while working for Médecins Sans Frontières. This was just the latest in a string of attacks that have killed 12 aid workers in Tigray since the start of the conflict in November 2020. Many more have been intimidated, harassed and detained.”
6. Wide shot, delegates
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Amina Mohammed, Deputy-Secretary-General, United Nations:
“While Governments may create systems around the delivery of humanitarian aid, it is essential that these systems support aid rather than blocking it. Likewise, every country needs to take action against terrorism. But every country also has a responsibility to make sure its counter-terrorism efforts do not undermine humanitarian operations.”
8. Wide shot, delegates
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Amina Mohammed, Deputy-Secretary-General, United Nations:
“Attacks on humanitarian workers are completely unacceptable and may constitute war crimes. They should be investigated and prosecuted accordingly. What goes unpunished will be repeated.”
10. Wide shot, Security Council
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Mardini, Director-General, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):
“It is a dire lack of protection and assistance for those who need it most. It is humanitarian workers, including our own colleagues, in mortal danger, far too many of them traumatized, missing, maimed, or even killed. And that really is the bottom line. Humanitarian space or spaces must be protected without exception.”
12. Wide shot, Security Council
13. SOUNDBITE (French) Lucile Grosjean, Delegate Director for Advocacy, Action against Hunger:
“The Security Council has not been able to prevent this narrowing of the humanitarian space. We have seen inertia and deadlock within this body threatening the lives of vulnerable people and the humanitarian workers who are coming to help them. It was only when 10 million people had been infected by COVID that the Council finally agreed to call for a global ceasefire, and some conflicts have been on the Council’s agenda for years but there is little specific action. Just saying we’re concerned is not enough. We need swift condemnation followed by ambitious action when the humanitarian space is ignored.”
14. Wide shot, Security Council
15. SOUNDBITE (French) Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France:
“Acting also means mobilizing ourselves so that impartial humanitarian actors are not brought to justice or punished simply for having carried out humanitarian actions, in accordance with international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. Humanitarian medical personnel cannot distinguish between the wounded they have to deal with on the basis of reasons unrelated to medicine. Such an attitude would be unethical in their profession. It is therefore not acceptable for them to be sent to prison for treating individuals on the grounds that, by doing so, they would help combatants.”
16. Wide shot, Security Council
STORYLINE
UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed the “hurricane of humanitarian crises” around the world is compounded by a “relentless wave of attacks on humanitarian and medical workers, and the imposition of ever narrower constraints on humanitarian space.”

Addressing the Security Council today (16 Jul), Mohammed said there has been a bloody surge in humanitarian crises around the world, adding that civilians in conflict zones are paying the highest price.

She said, “We are in uncharted waters. The sheer scale of humanitarian needs have never been greater. The United Nations and our partners are seeking to reach 160 million people with assistance this year alone – the highest figure ever.”

Mohammed said the Secretary-General urges the Council to take “strong and immediate action to support its numerous Resolutions on the protection of civilians, humanitarian and healthcare workers, and humanitarian space.”

The Deputy-Secretary-General said there have heard credible reports in the past few months out of Ethiopia’s Tigray region of executions of civilians, arbitrary arrests and detentions, sexual violence against children and forced displacement on a massive scale.

She said, “Three weeks ago, humanitarian aid workers Yohannes Halefom, María Hernández, and Tedros Gebremariam were brutally killed in Tigray while working for Médecins Sans Frontières. This was just the latest in a string of attacks that have killed 12 aid workers in Tigray since the start of the conflict in November 2020. Many more have been intimidated, harassed and detained.”

Mohammed said, around the world, security incidents affecting humanitarian organizations have increased tenfold since 2001, and it is becoming ever more difficult to provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to people in need.

She said humanitarian agencies often negotiate with governments or parties to conflict that undermine or completely reject their work. She noted some of the strategies used including restrictions on the movements of humanitarian staff and supplies, long visa and customs procedures, delays at checkpoints, and high taxes and fees on humanitarian supplies.

The Deputy-Secretary-General said, “While Governments may create systems around the delivery of humanitarian aid, it is essential that these systems support aid rather than blocking it. Likewise, every country needs to take action against terrorism. But every country also has a responsibility to make sure its counter-terrorism efforts do not undermine humanitarian operations.”

Mohammed stressed that the best way to protect humanitarian space is by ending violence and conflict. She said the United Nations is engaged around the world in difficult negotiations to produce lasting ceasefires and build sustainable peace, but underscored that in the meantime, life-saving humanitarian aid needs to continue, and humanitarian organizations are making remarkable efforts to protect humanitarian space.

The UN official said countries and the Security Council have a responsibility to do everything in their power to end attacks on humanitarian personnel and assets; to ensure and promote respect for international humanitarian law; and to seek accountability for serious violations, in line with numerous Resolutions on the protection of civilians, medical care, and humanitarian and United Nations personnel.

She said, “Attacks on humanitarian workers are completely unacceptable and may constitute war crimes. They should be investigated and prosecuted accordingly. What goes unpunished will be repeated.”

The Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Robert Mardini, said humanitarian space is not an abstract concept; rather it is tangible and rooted in humanitarian laws and principles.

He said access is more than allowing humanitarians to work. It is about ensuring that conflict affected people and communities can reach what they need in a safe and dignified way.

Mardini stressed that while there may be different views on what humanitarian space is, there can be little doubt about what happens when there is no humanitarian space. He said, “It is a dire lack of protection and assistance for those who need it most. It is humanitarian workers, including our own colleagues, in mortal danger, far too many of them traumatized, missing, maimed, or even killed. And that really is the bottom line. Humanitarian space or spaces must be protected without exception.”

The ICRC chief called on the international community to ensure that humanitarian organizations are able to maintain close physical proximity to affected populations and sustain engagement with parties to the conflict. He called on the Council to consider and mitigate the humanitarian impact of counter-terrorism measures by putting in place well-crafted standing humanitarian exemptions.

Lucile Grosjean, Delegate Director for Advocacy for Action against Hunger, said the current needs are unprecedented with conflicts, climate crises, social inequalities and COVID-19 affecting the most impoverished disproportionately leading to a genuine hunger pandemic. She said humanitarian actors are facing an unprecedented reduction in humanitarian space.

She said, “The Security Council has not been able to prevent this narrowing of the humanitarian space. We have seen inertia and deadlock within this body threatening the lives of vulnerable people and the humanitarian workers who are coming to help them. It was only when 10 million people had been infected by COVID that the Council finally agreed to call for a global ceasefire, and some conflicts have been on the Council’s agenda for years but there is little specific action. Just saying we’re concerned is not enough. We need swift condemnation followed by ambitious action when the humanitarian space is ignored.”

Grosjean the adoption of several resolutions supporting humanitarian work, but said these are often ignored in practice by parties to conflict.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian underlined the need for international solidarity in the face of the multiplication of crises and the brutalization of the world which does not cease worsening.

He said everyone has a responsibility to act and to promote awareness and respect for international humanitarian law. He added that the Security Council has a major role to play in reminding armed forces parties to conflicts, as well as non-state armed groups, of these principles.

Le Drian said, “Acting also means mobilizing ourselves so that impartial humanitarian actors are not brought to justice or punished simply for having carried out humanitarian actions, in accordance with international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. Humanitarian medical personnel cannot distinguish between the wounded they have to deal with on the basis of reasons unrelated to medicine. Such an attitude would be unethical in their profession. It is therefore not acceptable for them to be sent to prison for treating individuals on the grounds that, by doing so, they would help combatants.”

The French Foreign Minister also said the financing of humanitarian operations in accordance with international law must not be jeopardized by over-compliance practices of banks, which may in fact result in depriving humanitarian actors of the very possibility of doing their job.
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