Norway to give priority to protection, health and fight against hunger in allocation of humanitarian reserve

‘Humanitarian needs worldwide were at a record high at the beginning of this year, and have continued to rise. When allocating the remainder of the humanitarian reserve funds, roughly NOK 113 million, we will give priority to efforts to combat hunger and increase food security, protect civilians and improve health services,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

According to UN estimates, some 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022, and humanitarian needs are rising. This is a significant increase from 235 million people in 2021. Political crises, conflicts, the impacts of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic are the main drivers of the growing humanitarian needs.

‘We have humanitarian reserve funds, which we allocate throughout the year, to enable us to respond rapidly to new acute crises or underfunded crises, as the need arises. The demand for these funds has been especially high this year, due to growing humanitarian needs in many protracted crises, as well as new and worsening crises in countries such as Ethiopia and Afghanistan,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.

Protecting crisis-affected populations from violence and abuse is a key component of Norway’s humanitarian efforts. Enhancing the protection of civilians and children in armed conflict is also one of Norway’s priorities in the Security Council. There is a lack of funding for activities carried out by the UN and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in this area. This is why Norway is giving priority to protection of civilians. This includes safeguarding children’s access to education, protecting health services and health workers, and tracing missing people.

‘The dramatic increase in food insecurity and hunger worldwide is particularly worrying. The number of people affected is rising month by month. According to the UN, a record-high 283 million people in 80 countries are now acutely food insecure, while 45 million people in 43 countries are on the brink of famine. These figures are difficult to fathom,’ Ms Huitfeldt said.  

Funds from the humanitarian reserve will be channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the mine clearance organisation, the HALO Trust. Support provided to the World Health Organization (WHO) will be used to respond to acute disease outbreaks and health emergencies, including the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still having severe impacts in countries affected by humanitarian crises. In addition, Norway is providing an extraordinary contribution to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). CERF is a vital part of the international humanitarian response system and provides rapid funding to enable the provision of life-saving assistance in acute and underfunded crises.

In addition to the allocation of funds from the humanitarian reserve, Norway recently reallocated NOK 222.8 million from long-term development assistance efforts to humanitarian action in Afghanistan and Ethiopia. The ongoing crisis in northern Ethiopia is one of the most serious, most complex humanitarian crises in the world, and more than eight million people are in need of humanitarian protection and assistance. In Afghanistan, the humanitarian situation is alarming. The situation is deteriorating in the winter months, and there is widespread hunger. Norway recently also provided approximately NOK 130 million to support humanitarian efforts in Syria and its neighbouring countries.  

A large proportion of those in need of humanitarian assistance are refugees and displaced people. People who have been forced to flee their homes are particularly vulnerable, when it comes to the need for protection, and access to food and health services. More than 1 % of the world’s population is now forcibly displaced. As many as 42 % of them are children.