LONDON, May 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The head of
the United Nations said on Wednesday it was vital to help
fragile regions grow resilient and ward off future crises as
well as address humanitarian disasters when they erupt.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also criticised
rising xenophobia and "aggressive nationalism" in western
democracies, calling for greater social cohesion.
Guterres said "sources of fragility" - such as climate
change, corruption, mass migration, scarce food and water - no
longer occurred in isolation and had devastating effects.
"This fragility that we see in so many countries in the
world has been the cause of many conflicts," Guterres said at an
event organised by Britain's United Nations Association.
In his first major speech in Britain since becoming U.N.
head in January, Guterres said the organisation's humanitarian
operations must focus on preventing repeat problems.
"It is essential to not just address the humanitarian
crises, but to build resilience - of populations, of regions and
countries - to create the conditions for those humanitarian
crises not to be repeated," said Guterres.
In 2015, a record 65.3 million people were uprooted
worldwide, according to U.N. data. Some 1.6 million refugees and
migrants reached the European Union in 2014-2016, leading to the
largest migration crisis since World War Two.
More than 20 million people risk dying from starvation
because of drought and conflict in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan
and northeast Nigeria, while more than 100 million face acute
malnutrition worldwide, according to the U.N.
Guterres said tackling climate change was also crucial in
preventing further disasters in developing nations.
Before taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to
cancel the Paris climate agreement struck by nearly 200
countries in 2015, which aims to limit rising temperatures.
Guterres did not explicitly refer to Trump but his comments
come as the U.S. president is expected to announce whether he
will scrap the accord.
"Even when governments may consider that climate change is
not a problem to deal with, I'm optimistic about the capacity to
mobilise civil societies, business communities, cities, regions
in order to make sure that what was agreed in Paris is
implemented," said Guterres.
(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Lyndsay
Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian
issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern
slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, climate change
and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories)