Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter during the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, September 17, 2020

17.09.2020 - Speech

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I would like to thank our three briefers, Mark [Lowcock, USG OCHA], [Qu] Dongyu [FAO Director-General] and David [Beasley, WFP Executive Director]. I would like to make three points. The first one is: this topic belongs in the Security Council. I am quite happy that there is a broad consensus on that. Secondly, I would also like to make a point that we have a special responsibility for humanitarian operations given the importance of this issue. And thirdly, I would like to talk about money.

On the first one, the link between conflict and food security. We welcome the use of the early warning mechanism foreseen in Resolution 2417. The white note, the use of the mechanism and having this meeting are important elements. We believe that the early warning mechanism is essential in the conflict context. We must act early on if we want to break the deadly link between conflict and hunger. It has been shown quite clearly by our briefers today that this link does exist in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, northeast Nigeria and South Sudan. It also applies to the Sahel and especially Burkina Faso. The image is very much the same in these regions. There are recognizable patterns. Civilians are being killed, injured and displaced. Livelihoods are destroyed, and the availability of and access to food is disrupted amidst growing fragility. This needs to be discussed here at the Security Council.

We must also focus on our humanitarian operations. They are attacked, delayed or obstructed from delivering lifesaving assistance. All parties to conflict must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to respect and protect humanitarian relief personnel so they can perform their vital jobs. We call on all relevant actors to provide safe, rapid and unimpeded access to all people in need. The missions mandated by this Council are tasked with creating an environment conducive to the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, respecting the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Safeguarding the space for principled humanitarian action needs to be a central element of this Council's action. We have had very serious discussions in this Council over the last few weeks, which have shown that this is not an abstract, but a very concrete question.

Money is a third essential element. COVID-19 is deepening hunger and malnutrition crises worldwide. It is with great concern that we heard in June about the projections of the World Food Programme that the number of people facing hunger might rise to 270 million by the end of the year. David has just repeated that number. These figures are truly alarming and they underline the need to act swiftly and decisively to avert millions of people from facing severe hunger or even famine.

The persisting funding gap for the humanitarian response remains alarming. We must all step up our commitment to ensure that the most vulnerable continue to receive the assistance they need. Germany will remain committed to supporting the work of humanitarian agencies and the humanitarian system as a whole. This year, we increased the humanitarian budget of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to 2.5 billion US dollars. More than 530 million US dollars were especially dedicated to the humanitarian COVID-19 response and supporting Mark Lowcock's Global Humanitarian Response Plan. 600 million US dollars were allocated to the World Food Programme and your tremendous work, dear David [Beasley]. We support the four countries on the agenda today with a total of around 400 million US dollars, and I'm speaking about purely humanitarian assistance alone without entering the world of development cooperation.

We keep our promises. We pay what we pledge, and especially in this year, front loaded humanitarian actors to give them more flexibility in this crisis. We also place great emphasis on food security. Since 2015, Germany has supported anticipatory humanitarian action of different partners with more than 38 million US dollars. Forgive me for coming up with all these numbers, but I believe this is important to give the necessary concreteness to our discussions. It will be absolutely crucial that other donors also step up their assistance so that our humanitarian partners have the necessary means to avoid further worsening of the hunger and malnutrition crisis.

On the country situation, I would just like to reiterate the call on donors that has been issued at today's P5+3 Ministerial Meeting on Yemen. Finally, I would like to announce that together with our friends and colleagues from the Dominican Republic, we will organize an update meeting about “Monitoring food security in countries with conflict situations” in October. This is the biannual update given by the FAO and the World Food Programme to interested Council members. David was saying this is not the moment to raise the white flag, and I couldn't agree more.

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