Friday 6 December 2019

Aid groups 'can't cope' with spate of global conflicts

Official UN data revealed that 32,000 people across the world were displaced by conflict every day last year, with South Sudan just one of the troubled locations. Photo: Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty Images
Official UN data revealed that 32,000 people across the world were displaced by conflict every day last year, with South Sudan just one of the troubled locations. Photo: Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty Images
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the spike in the number of people being displaced by wars indicated that global peace and security was facing "the worst crisis of the last decades". TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Chris Green

The world's humanitarian organisations have reached their limit and are no longer able to cope with a massive rise in the number of refugees being forced out of their homes by global conflicts, a top UN official has warned.

Antonio Guterres, the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, said the spike in the number of people being displaced by wars indicated that global peace and security was facing "the worst crisis of the last decades". Already overstretched aid agencies will soon be "totally unable even to provide the minimum support to the victims", he warned. Speaking last night, Mr Guterres said the world was facing an unprecedented "multiplication of conflicts" which had overwhelmed aid agencies. He cited the situations in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, South Sudan and the Central African Republic as examples.

"I think it's fair to say that the humanitarian community has reached its limit," he said. "The funding available is no longer enough, the capacity to respond is completely overstretched. If you combine these [conflicts] with the impacts of climate change, with the multiplication of natural disasters, population growth, food insecurity, water scarcity - all this is creating a situation where humanitarian needs are growing exponentially and the capacity to respond is not able to match." Citing official UN data, Mr Guterres said that in 2011, 14,000 people across the world were displaced by conflict every day - a figure which rose to 23,000 in 2012 and 32,000 last year. The numbers for 2014 have not yet been calculated but are likely to be higher, he predicted.

"What we are witnessing is a dramatic increase in people being forced to flee," he said. "The world has apparently lost its capacity to prevent conflicts and to try and resolve them." Mr Guterres suggested that the lack of a single dominant global superpower meant that some countries were able to start conflicts with relative impunity. "Some political leaders believe that they can trigger conflicts because then the humanitarians will come and clean up the mess. We are no longer able to clean up the mess, to pick up the pieces. So the tragedies that we are witnessing are going to have much worse consequences." (© Independent News Service)

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