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Statement by Estonia at the ECOSOC humanitarian affairs segment


Mr. President, Madam Under-Secretary-General, distinguished delegates,

Estonia welcomes this debate on the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. Estonia fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by Cyprus on behalf of the European Union on Wednesday, and would like to offer some short additional remarks on complex emergencies.

At the outset, we thank the Emergency Relief Coordinator and OCHA for their devoted actions in responding effectively to complex humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. We underline OCHA’s leadership role in the coordination of humanitarian assistance, and also recognise the critical role of other UN funds and programmes in the delivery, such as UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR and WFP. Our special thanks go to all humanitarian staff and other partners for their tireless efforts, often carried out in very difficult and dangerous environments.

As it was strongly underlined at the Sahel debate – resilience is the key to avoiding suffering, but it is most difficult to build resilience in situations of conflict and political instability, when it is easy to nullify any achievement on resilience and preparedness. More than 1.5 billion people live in fragile or conflict-affected states. Civilians, especially the most vulnerable groups­ ­– such as women and children – are still the main victims of armed conflicts, resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees and persons suffering from forced displacement. With that in mind, Estonia condemns all forms of violence, including sexual and gender based violence, and especially violations committed against children.

Mr. President,

In situations of complex emergencies humanitarian access remains a key concern. We had a very interesting side event on access and acceptance on Wednesday, organized by the Swiss mission. It is the primary responsibility of states to care for the victims of humanitarian emergencies within their own borders. Yet, survival of millions of people, including the 42,5 million IDPs and refugees forced to leave their homes due to conflicts, depends also on outside humanitarian assistance. International humanitarian law provides for safe, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel and delivery of supplies. Estonia urges all parties in situations of complex emergencies, both state and non state-actors, to comply with the international humanitarian law. Yet, access to affected populations in need, as well as the safety of humanitarian workers, including locally hired personnel, continue to be major concerns and challenges that seriously affect humanitarian operations. Estonia commends the Emergency Relief Coordinator’s efforts to facilitate and negotiate access to emergency areas with all parties to a conflict, most recently in Syria.

To conclude, Estonia is a small, but established donor in the humanitarian landscape. We have supported OCHA with core funding since 2004 and CERF since its founding. In 2012 Estonia has contributed to alleviating human suffering through various channels in the Sahel region, Syria, Afghanistan, South-Sudan, Somalia, Central-African Republic and Yemen.

I thank you, Mr. President.


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