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(1st virtual meeting) ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment 2020 - High-Level Panel: Addressing the increasing complexity of health challenges in humanitarian contexts
9 Jun 2020 -  This panel focused on critical next steps needed to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to increasing needs driven by it, recognizing in the trends in recent years of disease outbreaks and epidemics.
Panellists discussed how the UN and its partners are mobilizing responses, and working with local organizations, to respond and adapt to current and future challenges, identifying emerging needs, addressing access challenges, delivering by remote, implementing preparedness measures to mitigate further risks. They discussed how to anchor these new approaches in humanitarian principles in a context where humanitarian needs are driven by an ever more complex mix of health, economic, development crises, and increasingly protracted conflicts.
Panellists discussed the measures that are needed to lower the human costs of these new dynamics, providing first-hand examples of how they are managing to deliver in such challenging environments. They described ways they are meeting the urgent existing needs, even as the COVID-19 threatens to drive already historic levels of hunger to new extremes and add hundreds of millions to the ranks of poverty. They also discussed solutions for facilitating the flow of humanitarian and medical supplies to where they are most needed. Finally, the pandemic’s mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) impacts were discussed, along with solutions for affected people, and for front-line humanitarian workers.
Under his authority as Vice-President of ECOSOC, the Chair of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment presented a “Call to Action” in support of the humanitarian response in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which amplified the urgency of mitigating the humanitarian impact of the crisis, and prepare to minimize the risks of future epidemics and pandemics.
- Chair:
• H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco and Vice-President of ECOSOC
- Moderator:
• Mr. Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
• H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
• Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response, World Health Organization
• Mr. Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director, World Food Programme
• Mr. Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
• Dr. Christos Christou, International President of Médecins Sans Frontiers
• Dr. Raji Tajudeen, Head, Division of Public Health Institutes and Research, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
• Ms. Atim Caroline Ogwang, Director, South Sudan Women with Disability Network (SSWDN)