For the second year running, in circumstances noted for the trillions of dollars wasted on things such as military expenditure, less than 50% of the funds requested for humanitarian aid for the millions of people devastated by wars and natural disasters was forthcoming.
For 2016, the UN requested around 20 billion dollars to ensure food, health, shelter, water, education and other necessities were provided for 87 million human beings, a large proportion of whom were left to fend for themselves as a result of the lack of finance for aid programmes.
Although there appears to be consensus that the best way to put a halt to human suffering is to prevent conflict or resolve this by way of inclusive dialogue and negotiation, it is unquestionable that supporting vulnerable men, women and children is a moral imperative.
Often, the phrase “forgotten crises” is heard in the UN when referring to people who on a daily basis struggle to survive hardships which are not of their making and which are often the result of outside aggression, wars of conquest or inherited colonialism and foreign exploitation of natural resources.
For John Ging, the director of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the lack of funds requested for the purposes of helping so many innocent human beings is unacceptable and demonstrates the failure of the international community when it comes to helping the most vulnerable who are concentrated in the southern countries.
In a meeting with journalists, the civil servant advised that one need look no further than the G-7 and G-20 nations which is where the money is.
Trillions of dollars are being invested each year in various sectors but humanitarian aid does not figure as a prominent concern, he warned.
Figures from the UN reflect the fact that in 2015 war related spending came to 1.7 trillion dollars with larger forecasts for 2016.
“I’m asking for us to question, in the name of those who are losing their lives and suffering unnecessarily, whether you are sure that the calculations are correct,” he stated.
Tens of millions of people need urgent help in areas affected by conflict such as Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine or those hit by natural disasters such as the impoverished Haiti.
In the African region of the Sahel alone, 560 thousand children perished as a result of food and medicine shortages whilst the rich consigned a substantial quantity of resources to several areas, in particular the military sector, the director of OCHA pointed out.
According to the Irish born expert, it is difficult in such a scenario not to question the absence of 10 billion dollars of humanitarian aid for providing food, medicine, water, shelter, education and protection from the cold.
He is urging us to think about this and for those with money to ask themselves whether their concerns are appropriate and whether it would really be such a serious imposition to commit a few billion of those trillions of dollars to helping those in need – remembering that in helping others we all benefit.
The troubling case
As a result of the devastating impact – at the start of October – of hurricane Mathew in the already impoverished Haiti, the UN requested 120 million dollars, as part of a 3 month plan, to help some 750 thousand people deemed particularly vulnerable. Ging insisted that despite it being a relatively meagre request he had only received 40% of it with just a month remaining of the scheduled plan.
Such a slow response in the face of a natural disaster – (usually close on 60% of the funds are forthcoming in the first month) – is not usual and it hampered the humanitarian agencies’ ability to provide aid, he explained.
Regarding this, he stressed that it is surprising to see such a lacking response to a problem which directly affected 1.4 million human beings, tens of thousands of whom remain displaced from their homes in the Caribbean country.
Ging commented to Prensa Latina that demands for funding for 2017 will certainly be greater in terms of the quantity of resources which will be provided and the number of people who will benefit.
For 2016, the UN asked for some 20 billion dollars to provide aid for approximately 90 million people.
We are hoping for an increase in these figures because conflicts, instead of dwindling, are on the rise and escalating in too many parts of the world with devastating consequences for men, women and children, he lamented.
According to the director of operation of OCHA the request for funds for humanitarian aid will only diminish when mankind makes progress regarding forecasting and solving armed crises which demand that 80% of resources be directed towards victims of war.
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Nigel Conibear – DipTrans MCIL – firstname.lastname@example.org)