Humanitarian spending bucks financial crisis-report

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Global spending on humanitarian aid hit a record US$16.7 billion in 2010 despite the financial crisis, but devastating disasters and rising delivery costs meant almost 40 percent of needs still went unmet, new data showed on Wednesday.

Governments poured US$12.4 billion into emergency relief, up 6 percent from the year before, while private donors gave US$4.3 billion, according to preliminary estimates by Global Humanitarian Assistance, a British-based aid monitoring group.”While the overall international response to humanitarin crises shows an upward trend, many governments are coming under pressure to justify existing levels of aid spending,” GHA said in its latest annual report on aid flows, Reuters reports.
“In a global context of rising demand, escalating costs and budgetary constraints, the need to target humanitarian financing effectively and equitably is ever more compelling.”A devastating earthquake in Haiti and Pakistan’s worst floods in memory squeezed humanitarian aid in 2010 even as contributions to UN “flash” appeals for urgent funding soared to 17 times their level in 2009, the report said.

Meanwhile, falling contributions to long-running, “complex emergencies” in Chad, Central African Republic, the Palestinian territories and other areas meant funding failed to keep pace
with overall aid requirements, GHA added.

At the same time, escalating food and fuel costs made it more expensive to procure and deliver aid, the report said. Food prices have risen by more than 40 percent since 2007 while oil prices are up 36 percent in real terms. The result was that 37 percent of overall needs went unmet, compared with an average of 30.2 percent for the preceding five years, the report said.

RISE BELIES BELT-TIGHTENING

The GHA figures provide the first snapshot of emergency relief flows since the global financial crisis, which raised fears donors would scale back overseas aid amid mounting pressure from cash-strapped taxpayers.

GHA said the record-breaking spending — 11 percent more than donors gave in 2005 when the Indian Ocean tsunami and Pakistan earthquake triggered an unprecedented outpouring – masked a new mood of fiscal austerity in many countries. The data showed that most gains came from four major donors — the United States, Japan, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

US spending hit $4.8 billion in 2010, compared with $4.4 billion the previous year. Japan raised its aid to $537 million from $298 million while Canada gave $452 million versus $396 million.

Saudi Arabia stepped up its donations significantly, contributing $256 million compared with $82 million a year earlier. In contrast, the European Union, Britain, Germany, Spain, Sweden, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark and Ireland all cut humanitarian aid, the data showed.

Collectively, those donors gave $1.1 billion less than they did in 2009, with the biggest cuts, in dollar terms, coming from the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Italy, the report
said. The GHA report included finalised data on where humanitarian aid went in 2009, which showed Sudan as the biggest single recipient for the fifth consecutive year, with $1.4 billion.

Recipient data for 2010 is not yet available.

The Palestinian territories received the second-highest amount of help — $1.3 billion in 2009 compared with $863 million in 2008. The 50 percent increase followed an Israeli blockade and military offensive. Next in line were Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Iraq.

Top 20 donors of humanitarian aid (in millions of dollars):

Donor 2009 2010

United States 4,376 4,806

EU institutions 1,613 1,604

Britain 1,024 951

Germany 727 685

Japan 298 537

Spain 632 501

Canada 396 452

Sweden 573 393

France 406 374

Norway 375 339

Netherlands 508 297

Australia 324 266

Saudi Arabia 82 256

Belgium 202 235

Italy 362 232

Switzerland 186 161

Finland 151 123

Denmark 242 110

Ireland 142 109

Austria 77 62

Top 20 recipients of humanitarian aid (in millions of
dollars):

Country/territory 2008 2009

Sudan 1,458 1,422

Palestinian 863 1,303
territories

Ethiopia 886 692

Afghanistan 860 634

Somalia 604 573

Democratic Republic 529 567
of Congo

Pakistan 196 486

Iraq 376 468

Kenya 305 400

Zimbabwe 334 393

Chad 250 322

Indonesia 136 268

Sri Lanka 246 238

Syria 110 193

Lebanon 249 192

Uganda 238 152

Myanmar 466 151

Jordan 154 150

Haiti 212 145

Georgia 106 143

Source: Global Humanitarian Assistance
(AlertNet is a global humanitarian news service run by Thomson

Reuters Foundation. Visit www.trust.org/alertnet)