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Remarks by Permanent Representative of Estonia at ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment


Humanitarian Affairs Segment of ECOSOC


Remarks by H.E. Mr. Andre Pung, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations in Geneva


Geneva, 21st June 2017

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Thank you Mr. Chair,


Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by Malta on behalf of the European Union and we would like to make some additional remarks in our national capacity.


We welcome ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment as a global platform enabling discussion on innovative and forward-looking humanitarian action. Estonia appreciates the Secretary-General’s report on “Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of the United Nations.” Yet, it is with great concern that we echo the words of the Secretary-General that due to the unprecedented needs, “the importance of effective and principled humanitarian action is greater than ever.”


Please allow me to start by stressing that the number of protracted crises, the extent of forced displacement, and the widespread global food insecurity, including countries facing famine or the risk thereof, have reached unprecedented and very worrying levels. We remain deeply concerned about the growing trend of conflict-induced displacement leading to ever increasing humanitarian challenges, such as in Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Geographically even closer, still looms the conflict-driven humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, where millions remain affected and in need.


A large proportion of those in need of protection are children, who make up approximately half the total of the world’s 65.6 million forcibly displaced people. Children are particularly vulnerable in emergencies and face increased risks of violence, exploitation and abuse. Children’s unique protection needs must be addressed and there is an urgent need to ensure that the world’s 3.7 million refugee children and one fourth of the 109.2 million school-age children in conflict-affected countries who are not attending school gain access to quality education.


Moreover, Estonia shares the grave concern about the ongoing violations of International Humanitarian Law, impunity, diminishing humanitarian space and lack of humanitarian access. We emphasise the need for Member States, the United Nations and humanitarian organisations to condemn instances of such violations strongly, consistently and systematically.


In this context, Estonia remains committed to adapting and responding to the ever-growing humanitarian needs in complex emergencies and natural disasters. Since the World Humanitarian Summit, Estonia has been stepping up our efforts in the areas of speaking out on violations, reducing and addressing displacement, transcending humanitarian-development divides, protecting vulnerable groups including children, providing access to education, and empowering and protecting women and girls. Under Grand Bargain commitments, Estonia reported considerable progress on increased non-earmarked and softly earmarked funding. We also look with particular attention into stepping up multi-year funding and increasing support for local responders. We remain committed to achieving more around those commitments in the years to come.


But the new challenges call for new approaches and innovative solutions, including working with partners outside the humanitarian sector. Yet at the same time, we must stay focused and committed to the core humanitarian values. Humanitarian activities should remain exclusively humanitarian in nature and comply with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.


Humanitarian action can only be strengthened when working together. Working better together. Indeed, a lot has also been done. Nonetheless, a lot remains to be done. It is thereby crucial to draw on the new opportunities presented by recent global agreements, frameworks and initiatives such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the World Humanitarian Summit, including the Grand Bargain, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants including the adopted Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and commitments to develop two distinct compacts to globally better respond to large movements of refugees and migrants.


We are all part of the humanitarian ecosystem where the reality of emergencies and crises are stretching the capacity of this system. In this context, the need for respect for international norms, for new and innovative approaches to humanitarian affairs, and for political solutions cannot be over-emphasised. Prevention, preparedness and context-based approaches are crucial prerequisites for better humanitarian action. Yet without a substantially higher political commitment to address the underlying causes of man-made humanitarian crises, durable solutions are obut of reach. Estonia remains committed to working together, recognising that the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian action requires urgent commitment and involvement of all actors.


Thank you.


© Permanent Mission of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28A, Geneva
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