UNGA: Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance

Statement by Counsellor Hanne Melfald at the General Assembly 42. Plenary meeting on Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the UN, 12 December 2020.

We are at the end of 2020, a year that has been extraordinary. A year
with yet another record in the number of people affected by
humanitarian crises.

Let me start by commending WHO and OCHA for their leadership and
coordination during the pandemic. The humanitarian system has
adapted responses to meet the challenges in an impressive way. We
stress the key role of local, frontline humanitarian workers. Resources
must reach frontline responders so that they can take action to
mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.

In order to curb the Corona virus, global and equitable access to
vaccines is key. Norway is Co-chairing the Access to Covid-19 Tools
Accelerator (ACT-A) FacilitaEon Council together with South-Africa to
this end.

As we enter the Security Council as an elected member from January
1st, we would like to highlight some areas of particular concern to

Firstly, we need to strengthen the protection of civilians in armed
conflicts. It is crucial to ensure that all parties respect international
humanitarian law. This includes granting safe and unhindered access
to civilians in need of protection and assistance. The humanitarian
principles should always be the foundation for our humanitarian

Secondly, Protection of children in armed conflict is a key issue for
peace and security. Norway will be an active member of the Children
and armed conflict-working group. We will look for opportunities to
promote protection of education and mobilize support for the Safe
Schools Declaration.

Thirdly, Protection from sexual and gender based violence must be
strengthened. The increase of sexual and gender based violence
during the pandemic is dramatic, and has devastating effects on
individuals and societies. We need to step up our efforts to fund
protection programmes as well as sexual and reproductive health
services. Norway encourages more states and organisations to join
the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in

Fourthly, we need to maintain a particular focus on refugees and
internally displaced persons. In the current crisis, there is an
increased need for protection, shelter, food, water and basic
healthcare services. Norway has championed the establishment of
the High-level Panel on Internal Displacement and we look forward to
the report of the Panel, with its recommendations on how to deal
with what is one of the major humanitarian challenges of our time.

Finally, we would like to commend humanitarian workers risking their
lives while saving others. We can and must do more to protect
humanitarian workers. We need to move from words to action to end
impunity for attacks against humanitarians.

Mr. President,

To conclude, Norway stands in solidarity with people across the world
who are affected by humanitarian crises and the effects of the
COVID-19 pandemic. No country can address these challenges alone.

As we end the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN,
and as an incoming member of the Security Council, I can assure you
that Norway will continue to do its part.