Humanitarian assistance in 2014: Another record high?

Humanitarian aid distribution by the U.K. Department for International Development and Action Against Hunger to Iraqi refugees displaced by violence. Will humanitarian aid funding for 2014 match or exceed last year’s? Photo by: Florian Seriex / ACF International / DfID / CC BY

It’s looking more and more like humanitarian assistance in 2014 will match — if not top — 2013 figures.

Last year, funding for emergencies soared to a record of $22 billion, nearly $5 billion more than in the previous year, according to the latest Global Humanitarian Assistance report launched Wednesday.

The report notes “a dramatic rise in the number of major humanitarian crises” in 2013, when the United Nations declared the conflicts in Syria and the Central African Republic as well as the massive earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines as level 3 emergencies, a designation for the most serious, large-scale and complex crises. Internally displaced people numbered 33.3 million, while refugees hit 16.7 million. Now add the fighting in South Sudan and Iraq — both were classified as L3 emergencies this year — and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza as well as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and it’s not far to think that humanitarian response this year will be massive, too.

“I think we can probably predict at least in terms of the needs, the requirements will be as high, if not higher [than those in than 2013], but it's hard to put a dollar value on it in terms of what we'll see in 2014,” said Charlotte Lattimer, senior humanitarian adviser for Development Initiatives’ Global Humanitarian Assistance Program, which produces the annual GHA report.

Although $22 billion was a record sum, it was still insufficient to meet all humanitarian needs in 2013, with appeals only 65 percent funded.

Some emergencies tend to not be prioritized for funding. An example is the conflict and refugee crisis in Myanmar, which topped the European Commission’s forgotten crisis assessment index in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 and has consistently appeared on that ranking for the past decade.

“There is still a definite disparity in the scale and the speed of response that needs to be addressed,” Lattimer told Devex. “So I hope people read beyond the headline of $22 billion.”

Priority countries on the ECHO Forgotten Crises Assessment index for 2004-2014. Click here to view a larger version of the image.

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  • Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.