There was no let-up in humanitarian crises in 2012, so it was another busy year for OCHA. We made progress in Somalia, where we are supporting the slow recovery from famine in some parts of the country. OCHA worked with partners to avert a full-blown food and nutrition emergency in the Sahel through early support to regional and Government-led programmes aimed at building local communities’ capacity and resilience to respond to shocks, such as prolonged drought or a rise in food prices.

Throughout the year, our advocacy and coordination role continued in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen and many other countries in need. 

But it was the deepening humanitarian crisis in Syria that dominated our year and that of many of our humanitarian partners. There is still no end in sight to this tragedy, which has displaced around one quarter of the country’s people. On the humanitarian front, we are doing all we can to reach the millions of people in need in Syria, but our efforts have been hampered by the volatile security situation and limited capacity. The impact of the crisis on neighbouring countries has been severe, with over 1.5 million people registered as refugees. It is clear that only a political solution can end the pain of the Syrian people and restore stability.

In other areas, we sought to increase support for resilience-building programmes that help people and communities to cope with economic and climate-related shocks. We also continued to implement the reforms to the humanitarian response system that began in 2011 to improve our operational effectiveness. This report highlights the progress we have made in improving coordination and leadership in humanitarian response efforts, and in strengthening relationships with a broader range of NGOs and others.

It is an extremely challenging time for all of us engaged in humanitarian work. As a community, we have come together to put in place the building blocks for long-term change that will have a lasting impact on our work. We know that we need to lead rather than just respond to the complex global environment that now exists. The Secretary-General’s proposed World Humanitarian Summit will help us to consolidate these efforts. We count on your continued support as we respond to the challenges we face. 

Valerie Amos meets with Syrian school children during a visit to Za’atri Refugee Camp in Jordan. © OCHA/ Nicole Lawrence