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State Secretary for International Development Cooperation Diana Janse's speech at the European Humanitarian Forum 2023


Closing remarks by Swedish State Secretary for International Development Cooperation Diana Janse at the European Humanitarian Forum on 21 March 2023 in Brussels.

Check against delivery.

Commissioner, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

We have gathered in a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs.Three hundred thirty-nine million people around the world require lifesaving humanitarian assistance. One in every 23 people on the planet needs emergency assistance to survive.

During the last two days, we – a wide range of actors – have gathered here to discuss some of the most pressing humanitarian challenges we are facing. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your valuable contributions to the discussions.

This year’s Forum takes place in the shadow of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. This aggression has caused enormous suffering and destruction in Ukraine. Seventeen point six million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Ukraine alone. Moreover, in the past year the war has had an alarming impact on global food security and nutrition, significantly worsening food insecurity for those who already had the least. We face the risk of famine in the Horn of Africa, but also in the Sahel, Yemen, and Afghanistan. This forum also takes place only weeks after the horrifying earthquake in Türkiye and Syria – the deadliest in Türkiye in more than 100 years.

Despite this extremely bleak outlook, my main takeaway from these two days is the great capacity, commitment and courage of the collective humanitarian community – that is you. Despite an often difficult political context, severely underfunded appeals and daunting logistical challenges, the humanitarian system continues to provide an indispensable global public good. In Ukraine, we see humanitarian action carried out in an environment of extreme levels of conflict. Thank you for your work to provide assistance to the people suffering the most. To save lives. To restore dignity and hope. Thank you.

In the panel sessions yesterday and today, we have explored ways to tackle soaring humanitarian needs by mobilising resources, brainstormed on how to improve performance and better anticipate climate-related crises, and jointly set out strategies to improve humanitarian access. The discussions have aimed to provide innovative, sustainable and efficient solutions for humanitarian action in light of our new global realities.

Crucially, we have tried to identify ways to preserve humanitarian space and enable safe and efficient humanitarian action – including in conflicts and hard-to-reach areas – to ensure that people with the most pressing needs can be assisted first, wherever they are.

I also want to emphasise that I see no contradiction between supporting the humanitarian principles and taking a stance against Russia’s illegal war of aggression. The war is a breach of another set of important principles, namely the UN Charter, designed to prevent war, conflict, and human suffering. When a permanent member of the UN Security Council, with the utmost responsibility to uphold the UN charter, breaches it by invading a peaceful neighbour, targeting civilian infrastructure and residential areas as a strategy, it should – and must  – matter to all of us. I am sure this is not the world order any of us want. And it is certainly a world order that causes humanitarian suffering and increases humanitarian needs.

As co-host of this Forum, I am proud that the EU and its Member States have come together here in Brussels in a show of leadership for sustainable humanitarian funding and for principled humanitarian action. A total of EUR 8.4 billion in humanitarian funding has been pledged to save lives, alleviate suffering and uphold human dignity.

But as Foreign Minister Billström said at the opening of the forum, the EU’s humanitarian commitment is not only financial. We will continue to work to ensure effective delivery of life-saving aid. We will continue to call for full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access – always and everywhere. And we will continue to encourage others to join us in these efforts.

I am pleased that Belgium, has agreed to co-host  the third edition of the European Humanitarian Forum together with the European Commission.

I will be there, and I hope that you will be there too. Until we meet then, let us work to – in our different capacities – break the vicious circle of ever-growing needs. Let us work to narrow the funding gap – by bringing more donors to work with us, by finding ways to partner with the private sector, by working more and better with anticipatory action, by decreasing the needs and by working more effectively and smarter.

Until then, let’s get to work. And once again, a final thank you.