National Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Famines


National Statement on behalf of Sweden, Ambassador Carl Skau, at the Security Council Arria formula meeting on famines. Friday, 16 June 2017, New York.

Thank you Ambassador (Hailu) for giving me the floor. And thank you to the briefers for their presentations, which underline again the severity of the situation and the real urgency for action. For that reason, we are delighted to be able to co-sponsor today's meeting.

Let me begin by paying tribute to those humanitarians in the field, including local communities, who are already responding to the needs of millions of people in challenging and often dangerous environments. Yet, despite their efforts, the situation remains critical. It is clear that we need to do more if we are to avoid further suffering.

Action requires funding. As we have heard from Amina today, 4.9 billion USD is urgently needed in life-saving support. The outcome of the recent pledging conference for Yemen, which resulted in 1.1 billion USD in pledged support for the Humanitarian Response Plan, was encouraging. Funds must now be disbursed without delay and, where possible, they should be unearmarked to facilitate a flexible and more effective response. Similar commitments are needed for priority actions in Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia.

Conflicts are not only driving these crises, but are also preventing the humanitarian community from responding. While ensuring sufficient funding is crucial, humanitarian actors also must be able reach people in order to save lives and alleviate suffering. In many situations they are today unable to do so due to violence, military operations, and administrative barriers.

The deliberate denial of access to humanitarians further punishes civilians and is a breach of international humanitarian law. There must – always and everywhere – be respect for international humanitarian law and full, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access for humanitarians to do their job.

Madam Moderator,

The root causes of these crises go far beyond drought or the availability of food. As the FAO Director-General, Graziano da Silva, said in Rome on Monday: 'Peace is the most fundamental element to ending these humanitarian crises'. And as Amina reminded us this afternoon, sustaining peace will require comprehensive approaches that include finding political solutions, increasing investment in conflict prevention and creating conditions for a more robust development response. It will also require strengthened synergies between humanitarian and development actors, including through an earlier and more robust presence of development actors in emergencies. In this regard, we welcome the World Bank's engagement and close coordination with the United Nations on the ground as well as here in New York. To be successful, it is essential that the development of long-term strategies fully involve the crisis-affected population, including women and girls, as well as local actors.

The interconnected nature of today's humanitarian crises was evident during the Security Council's visit to the Lake Chad Basin region. We saw first-hand how security, development and human rights are interacting. And how issues such as climate change can set in motion famine; exacerbated by poverty, underdevelopment, competition for resources; ultimately leading to conflict. The wish list of IDPs we met in Maiduguri was clear and short. They wanted livelihoods to sustain themselves and to regain their dignity. And they wanted education for their children.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, also visited Nigeria last week. During her visit, humanitarian actors again stressed the need for a political process in the Lake Chad Basin region.

Picking up on Francois' question, I would as the panel how we as members of the Council take to create the conditions for a political process that allows long term development?

Madam Chair,

Today's meeting underscores the need for continued dialogue, including in the Council and, if not before, at the political level during the high-level week at the General Assembly in September. However, we cannot wait to start taking action. The people of affected by these crises need our support now.

Thank you.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis