As former speakers have underscored, the demand for humanitarian assistance continues to grow each year.
We in New Zealand have been acutely aware of this with the tragedy of the Christchurch earthquakes. Our own Pacific region is the most likely to be impacted by natural disasters globally – twenty-one times more likely than Europe and four times more likely than Africa.
USG Amos has eloquently laid out the leger for 2012: 310 disasters claimed over 9,000 lives, affected over a million people, and caused over a $130 billion in damage.
On the positive side the number of fatalities as a result of disasters is falling and new technologies are improving the ways in which humanitarian assistance is provided.
2012 shone a harsh light on some of the most troubling humanitarian emergencies and exposed the complexity of environments in which humanitarian actors operate.
Bearing this in mind, we would like to touch on a six areas to remind ourselves about the priority we must give to humanitarian action and the people who depend upon it for survival in the some of the darkest moments of their lives.
First, and as emphasised by the G77 plus China here today, all humanitarian actors – state and non-state alike - must adhere to the fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
Second, humanitarian actors must be granted access to those in need of assistance without undue delay, and be able to do so free from the threat of being attacked themselves.
In this context, New Zealand deplores the increased targeting of medical personnel. The protection of the medical profession is essential to ensure that necessary and often life-saving medical attention is able to be provided to the wounded and sick. We therefore endorse calls for state and non-state actors to adhere to their legal obligations under international humanitarian law and to respect and protect medical personnel, facilities, vehicles and services against unlawful attacks or threats.
Third, New Zealand welcomes moves to improve the collection and analysis of sex, age and disability disaggregated data, and the systematic integration of the rights of women, children, and those with disabilities into humanitarian programming. In emergencies it is often those most vulnerable that suffer most. Our systems need to be able to identify these individuals so that they can be provided the assistance they need.
Fourth, we want to emphasise once again the importance of prevention. Strengthening in built communities’ resilience and building their capacities to deal with shocks is an essential part of this effort. New Zealand is pleased to be supportive of National Disaster Management Offices and communities in the Pacific.
Fifth, we must continue to work together to find new and better ways to use technological advances to information sharing and enhance our ability to analyse risk.
Finally, Mr President, we want to express New Zealand’s support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to hold a World Humanitarian Summit in 2015.
We look forward to working with others in setting an agenda for making humanitarian action fit for the challenges of 2015 and beyond.