Humanitarian Action

Luxembourg's humanitarian action strategy

Luxembourg's humanitarian action strategy is founded on the respect of fundamental humanitarian principles which are humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. It falls within the European Consensus on humanitarian action which states that "humanitarian action is a moral imperative and the fundamental expression of the universal value of solidarity between peoples". According to World Bank and United Nations studies, natural disasters claimed around 3.3 million lives between 1970 and 2010 -  which equates to an annual average of 82,500 victims - and affected 4.4 billion people since 1992, namely more than 200 million victims each year. Whereas the number, frequency and intensity of natural disasters is increasing, and having increasingly devastating effects, statistics do not indicate an upward trend in the death toll caused by natural disasters, which is attributable to an expansion of increasingly sophisticated early warning systems. Nevertheless, the evidence of the last two decades is that ever more people are affected by disasters. Moreover, whereas at an international level most of the material damage is borne by rich countries, it is the low and medium income countries which remain the most exposed to the impact of these cataclysms.

Nowadays droughts are among the most lethal natural disasters, especially if they affect particularly vulnerable communities. Between 2010 and 2012, chronic undernourishment affected almost 870 million people in the world. According to FAO estimates, most of them - some 850 million people, or somewhat less than 15 per cent of the world's population - live in developing countries. Moreover, each year malnutrition causes the death of 2.6 million children under the age of five in developing countries. Even if certain countries have managed to improve their population's food security since 1991, others have had to contend with prolonged and complex food crises.

Unfortunately  earthquakes, droughts, floods and storms are inevitable events. However, the victims and damage are partly down to acts of omission and are not necessarily natural and inevitable foregone conclusions. The international community must therefore be ready to intervene in a coordinated and effective manner to ensure better preventive action while increasing the resilience of the communities at risk, namely the ability of states and communities to resist and respond to such disasters.

Apart from natural disasters, armed conflicts are a scourge of major proportions even if progress has been made in recent years. According to the Human Security Report 2012, not only has the number of armed conflicts – involving states or not – declined since 1946 but their intensity has also diminished. The fall in the number of victims of conflict is largely explained by the reduction in the number of high-intensity conflicts between states. However, it is important to add that the regions of the world most affected by overt conflicts are the regions of sub Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia, with some of the poorest countries in the world. Furthermore, conflicts have changed in nature since the end of the Cold War and new phenomena have emerged: the involvement and targeting of civilian populations by recourse to brutal violence, in particular against women and children, the proliferation of conventional weapons, especially small arms, urban violence, increasingly young but well-organised and dispersed armies, and the forced recruitment of child soldiers. Given the extent of the humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighbouring countries that has endured since 2011, there are certainly grounds for challenging the trends described in the aforementioned report.

Examples of partnerships between Luxembourg and multilateral agencies

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