Video address by Federal Foreign Minster Heiko Maas on the occasion of he presentation of the United Nations Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 from Berlin

01.12.2020 - Speech

Next year, 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance – that is nearly three times the population of Germany.

Behind these figures stand countless stories of human suffering, of hunger and displacement.

The figures also set a new and depressing record for global humanitarian needs. They are a call to action for all of us.

And we all know where to start:

  • Armed conflicts continue in Syria, Yemen, the Sahel, Congo, and elsewhere. New crises have erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and in Ethiopia.
  • Climate change is leading to more extreme weather events every year.
  • And the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated humanitarian crises in many places.

With today’s launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 from Berlin, we want to tackle these challenges. And I would like to thank you, Mark, and your team at OCHA for co-hosting this event.

Of course, humanitarian assistance alone cannot fix the problems I just mentioned. We also need crisis prevention, well-targeted development cooperation and diplomatic efforts to solve conflicts.

But most immediately, we require solidarity with the millions of people worldwide who are suffering due to wars, natural disasters and the pandemic.

This means more financial commitments by all countries and donors who can economically afford it.

Germany stands ready to play its part.

During the last four years, we have doubled our budget for humanitarian assistance – to almost 2.1 billion euro in 2020.

This global solidarity is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. And I am grateful that it is widely supported by the German population and the German Parliament.

That is also why I am confident that our Bundestag will adopt a federal budget for next year that will further increase our humanitarian assistance – despite the economic impact of the pandemic. Because this is the only way to win the fight against COVID-19 and its humanitarian consequences – once and for all.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In recent years, the global humanitarian system has done an outstanding job in dealing with a growing number of crises. This is something all of you can be extremely proud of.

But humanitarian operations can be made even more effective and efficient – by shifting our focus, away from responding to anticipating risks. Our goal should be to step in before a crisis even breaks out.

Therefore, Germany in 2020 invested 30 million euro in preventive approaches to humanitarian assistance.

And your discussions today will focus on preventive humanitarian action regarding climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the World Food Programme this year is a tribute to each and every one of you.

There is no nobler task than taking on great personal risks to rescue the lives of others.

Unfortunately, I cannot promise you that 2021 will become a less challenging year.

But I can promise you that we will continue to stand by your side.

And by the side of the millions of men, women and children in need.

Thank you very much.


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