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Leave no one behind

Honouring our commitment to leave no one behind requires reaching eve ryone in situations of conflict, disaster, vulnerability and risk.


L eaving no one behind is a central aspiration of most political, ethical or religious codes and has always been at the heart of the humanitarian imperative. The pledge to leave no one behind is the central theme of the 2030 Agenda and places a new obligation on us all to reach those in situations of conflict, disaster, vulnerability and risk first so that they benefit from and contribute to sustainable long-term development. The World Humanitarian Summit provides a first test of the international community’s commitment to transforming the lives of those most at risk of being left behind.

O ne of the most visible consequences of conflict, violence and disasters has been the mass displacement of people within countries or across borders, often for protracted periods. Every day in 2014, conflicts and violence forced approximately 42,500 people to flee their homes and seek safety either internally or across borders. As a result, the number of internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers reached nearly 60 million. In 2014, one estimate suggested that the average length of displacement owing to war and persecution is 17 years. Fewer refugees returned than at any point in 30 years, with only 1 per cent being able to return home in 2014. Millions more people have been displaced by disasters triggered by natural hazards, a figure that increased by 60 per cent from 1970 to 2014, with an average of more than 26 million people newly displaced in each of the last seven years. More frequent and intense extreme weather events associated with climate change, including rising sea levels, are expected to increase that trend further.

P atterns of displacement have changed as well. Over half of the 19.5 million refugees and 38 million internally displaced persons now reside outside camps in cities or informal settlements. In urban areas, they are at risk of falling to the bottom of society, given that they are not easily identifiable and tend to be unemployed or work in low-paid insecure or informal sectors; to be in female-headed households; to have children at work instead of school; and to experience housing insecurity. National and local health and education systems, social protection mechanisms and infrastructure may be unavailable or overwhelmed by the volume of demand. Those displaced in camps often survive on inadequate humanitarian assistance, with few opportunities for self-reliance; they live in the margins and are routinely overlooked by national programmes for sustainable development.

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