Humanitarian aid soars to $22 billion in 2013


Worldwide spending on humanitarian assistance soared to a record $22 billion last year as millions of people affected by natural disaster such as the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and internal military conflicts in Syria and Central African Republic.


Based from the preliminary findings of the 2014 Global Humanitarian Assistance Report of the UK-based research firm Development Initiatives, donations from governments reached to $16.4 billion or 24 percent higher than 2012, while private donations increased by 35 percent or $5.6 billion.

US was the world’s largest donor with $4.7 billion, followed by the United Kingdom with $1.8 billion and Turkey with $1.6 billion.

The Syrian conflict was the cause of $3.1 billion in humanitarian aid.

According to a blog written by Global Humanitarian Assistance programme leader Sophia Swithern, “six months after the Philippines was hit by the most severe typhoon ever recorded, the humanitarian response continues to support the relief and recovery effort. International aid has slowly but steadily increased to reach US$750 million.”

Swithern said that Typhoon Haiyan is also the “best funded current UN appeal to date as it is 56% funded, while Iraq and Chad are only 6% funded.” Six months after the Pakistan floods and Haiti earthquake, their appeals were 58% and 52% funded respectively.

If the typhoon appeal is to become 100% funded, the steady flow of international assistance will need to continue over the rest of 2014, Swithern added.

The preliminary GHA report added that United Nations-coordinated appeals targeted 78 million people for assistance in 2013 and called for US$13.2 billion in funding. Needs are continuing to rise: as of early June 2014, UN-coordinated appeals requests totalled a record US$16.4 billion.

In 2012, 24% of international humanitarian response went to the top 5 recipient countries. Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and the West Bank & Gaza Strip have consistently appeared in the top 10 recipients list over the past five years.

Many crises continue to be de-prioritized with countries such as Nepal, Myanmar and Algeria repeatedly appearing in the European Commission’s Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)’s forgotten crisis index. There is considerable disparity between the financing of different UN appeals. In 2013 Mauritania’s appeal was 83% funded compared with Djibouti’s, which was 36% funded.

The time taken for donors to respond at scale to acute crises triggered by sudden natural hazards can vary enormously in the first weeks and months.

“ The response to Typhoon Haiyan during the first month, for example, was half that of the Indian Ocean earthquake-tsunami appeal in 2005 in terms of needs met. The response to conflict-related and complex crises is even slower,” the report said.

South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic and Yemen crises remained more than 50% unfunded six months after their appeals were launched.

“ Humanitarian assistance retains a critical and unique function to provide a principled response to crisis-affected populations. It represented around 1% of the combined domestic and international resources of its top 20 recipients in 2012. As a comparison, domestic expenditure accounted for 67% of total resources in these countries,” the report said.

Protracted crises continue to capture the bulk of official humanitarian assistance – 66% in 2012. There were an estimated 179.5 people living in poverty in these long-term recipient countries. Almost 50% of long-term humanitarian assistance went to countries with government expenditure of less than US$500 per person per year – one third of the developing country average.

Sources for the figures come from a data set of 75 NGOs, annual reports for six UN agencies with humanitarian mandates – the UN children’s fund, Unicef, UN Development Programme, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the World Food Programme, and the World Health Organisation – and annual reports from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The full GHA Report will be released in September 2014 and will include further detailed analysis and a comprehensive overview of all areas of humanitarian financing.


Text and photos  by Imelda V. Abano

READ the preliminary report of the 2014 Global Humanitarian Assistance here

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