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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization

E. Effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts

WFP helicopter delivering aid

The humanitarian impact of man-made and natural disasters during the past year again tested the capacities of national and international actors to respond. We were reminded afresh of the importance of adherence to humanitarian principles, timely access to affected people and greater protection for civilians. We saw an intensification of some internal armed conflicts with millions of people displaced. Global displacement is greater than it has been in nearly 20 years. The humanitarian consequences of the fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic were particularly grave. There were also more than 300 natural disasters, including cyclones, floods, droughts and earthquakes, claiming an estimated 9,300 lives, affecting 106 million people, and causing $138 billion in economic damage. It was the third consecutive year in which economic disaster losses exceeded $100 billion.

In 2012, the United Nations and its partners appealed for $8.7 billion to assist 51 million people living in 16 countries. Funding for 2012 consolidated and flash appeals in dollar terms ($5.3 billion) and in proportion to requirements (63 per cent) was similar to 2011, though considerably less than in 2009 and 2010 ($7.0 billion and $7.2 billion respectively). The Central Emergency Response Fund received $427 million in donor funding for 2012.

Major global trends such as population growth, urbanization, uneven economic growth, increasing inequality, sudden or protracted political transitions and climate change suggest that humanitarian caseloads will continue to increase. Already, the consequences of disasters for national and regional development, as well as economic growth, have led many Governments to bolster national capacities for disaster management. People affected by emergencies also increasingly use technology to articulate their needs, to seek resources from their own communities, neighbours and Governments. Humanitarian actors can leverage technology to distribute assistance more quickly and cost-effectively and to map hazards for better coordination and planning. It will be essential to support innovation in the sector and for humanitarian organizations to harness the opportunities technology can provide.

Member States and humanitarian actors are still better at responding to crises than at preventing or preparing for them. Recognizing this, the United Nations brought resilience to the forefront of the humanitarian agenda in 2012 through closer collaboration between humanitarian and development agencies to manage risks and address the underlying vulnerabilities. Increased synergies between disaster risk reduction, including preparedness, and climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts will be needed.

Given the changing humanitarian landscape, we must continue to adapt and update the international humanitarian system, making it more inclusive and interoperable, connecting and convening all actors who can and want to contribute to different aspects of preparedness, response, resilience and recovery. We must put a greater premium on evidence, innovation and partnerships, as well as on enhanced capacity, especially at the local level. More must be done to engage affected countries. Preparations are under way for a World Humanitarian Summit in 2015 or 2016 to take stock of the changing environment, agree on how to adapt and make humanitarian action fit for future challenges.