UN needs $7.7B for 2012 humanitarian aid response

Valerie Amos (right), under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs consults with a humanitarian worker during her visit to Accra camp in Haiti. Photo by: Marco Dormino / UN

Millions of people will be affected by emergencies caused or worsened by the impact of climate change, insecurity over food and water, economic and political crises, migration, urbanization, and rapid population growth, says Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos at the launch of the agency’s annual appeal event in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday (Dec. 14).

The United Nations and its partners appealed for $7.7 billion for its 2012 humanitarian aid projects. This is $300 million more than this year’s initial appeal — $7.4 billion — possibly to ensure sufficient funding to cover unforeseen crises and natural disasters. The total amount for 2011 surged to $8.8 billion after similar events were taken into account.

Amos said much of the increase is for Somalia, Yemen, Djibouti, South Sudan and Mindanao in the Philippines. Somalia will be needing $500 million more for next year, while $763 million will be allotted for South Sudan.

Meanwhile, total requirements for the Horn of Africa will be 20 percent higher than this year’s $2.4 billion. Amos notes the humanitarian crisis in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia remains the largest in the world, with 4 million people in urgent need of assistance in Somalia and more than 600,000 refugees seeking protection in Kenya. Somalia is among the top five recipients of emergency funding this year, along with Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Japan, when it was hit by an earthquake followed by a tsunami in March.

Mark Leon Goldberg of the UN Dispatch said the annual appeal process is “quite brutal.” He said agencies lay out a very specific accounting of needs, and then donors “pay what they want, when they want.” This results to “less popular” petitions getting ignored. For 2011, funding requests for Nicaragua, El Salvador, West Africa, Pakistan and Niger weren’t even 50 percent filled. And as of Dec. 15, only $5.2 billion of the $8.8 billion solicited for 2011 has been delivered.

“A more forward thinking approach might be a dues paying system into which every country in the world pays into a central pot based on their GNP. That way, funding streams could be a bit more reliable and robust,” Goldberg said in his article.

For 2011, top five donors to humanitarian appeals are the United States, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, Japan and the private sector. For 2012, will these donors maintain their generosity?

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.