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        General Assembly
        Economic and Social Council

29 May 2007

Original: English

General Assembly
Sixty-second session
Item 73 (a) of the preliminary list*
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance: strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations
Economic and Social Council
Substantive session of 2006
Geneva, 16 July-18 July 2007
Item 5 of the provisional agenda**
Special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance

Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations

Report of the Secretary-General


The present report has been prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution 46/182, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report annually to the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council on the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance. It is also submitted in response to General Assembly resolution 61/34.

The present report describes the humanitarian developments of the past year, provides an overview of key initiatives to improve the humanitarian system and analyses two thematic issues of concern: the use of military assets in natural disaster relief and needs-based humanitarian financing, including the Central Emergency Response Fund. The report ends with a series of recommendations for further strengthening the coordination of humanitarian assistance of the United Nations based on the conclusions contained in the report.

* A/62/50.
** E/2007/100.

I. Introduction

1. The present report responds to the requests contained in General Assembly resolution 61/134 and Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/81.

II. Humanitarian developments

A. The year in review


5. Conflicts also continue to affect populations throughout the Middle East. In Iraq, the civilian death toll now averages more than 100 per day. An estimated 8 million civilians are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including 2 million internally displaced, some 800,000 of whom have been displaced since February 2006, and 2 million who have fled to the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan. In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 972 residents were killed as a result of the continuing conflict; of these, 274 were victims of internal fighting. In the same period, 16 Israelis were killed and 15 injured by home-made rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. The 34 days of military strikes in Lebanon and Israel during the summer of 2006 resulted in more than 1,000 Lebanese civilian deaths and 43 Israeli civilian deaths, the displacement of more than a million people in Lebanon and 300,000 in Israel and the registration of some 900 cluster munitions sites across south Lebanon.


Humanitarian access


15. ... In the occupied Palestinian territory, internal political divisions, Israeli economic and military pressure and an increasing number of obstacles to movement have resulted in an aggravated humanitarian situation, including a 13 per cent rise in food insecurity. The reasons for limited access are many; they include fighting, bombing, banditry, and other criminal activity, the proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons, excessive bureaucratic requirements and inadequate respect for humanitarian principles. Whatever the reasons, restricted access limits the ability of humanitarian organizations to do their work effectively.


Emergency response funds

68. Like common humanitarian funds, emergency response funds are country-level pooled funding mechanisms that offer small grants to humanitarian assistance actors on the ground. Since 1997, the six emergency response funds in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Liberia and Somalia have disbursed $65.78 million and financed 538 projects for a wide range of activities. Efforts are under way to establish additional emergency response funds in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and southern Sudan.


VI. Conclusions and recommendations

76. The activities and challenges identified above suggest that an increase in the demand for humanitarian activities is likely. The incidence and severity of disasters associated with natural hazards may increase due to climate change and vulnerability linked to population growth, urbanization, desertification and environmental degradation. Weak governance, armed conflict, political, religious and ethnic tensions, competition over scarce natural resources and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other pandemics may further compound their impact.

77. As the demands on the humanitarian system grow, United Nations humanitarian agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, International Organization for Migration and non-governmental organization partners may find it increasingly difficult to respond adequately. Establishing partnerships, creating capacities within national and local governments, regional organizations and civil society groups and better defining needs are critical investments in addressing humanitarian vulnerability more effectively in the coming years, and in doing so impartially.

78. It is thus of paramount importance to ensure that humanitarian agencies and their partners are given the space, access and security to provide life-saving assistance to those in need. It is also essential to promote respect for humanitarian principles and a better understanding of the role of humanitarian workers in support of Governments and their populations.

79. Based on the above, Member States may wish to consider the following:


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