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UN critical of aid system

26 July 2012


Logged in: a young boy makes his way through floods in Assam state, India. Tens of thousands of people will be without safe drinking water, Christian Aid warned, after the worst flooding in three decades

Logged in: a young boy makes his way through floods in Assam state, India. Tens of thousands of people will be without safe drinking water, Christia...

ONE year after famine was declared in the Horn of Africa, more than nine million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN has said.

And a new report on the aid system says that it is struggling to respond and adapt in a world affected by economic instability, conflict, and natural disasters.

The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2012 said that the slow response to events in the Horn of Africa demonstrated the inability, or unpreparedness, of the international response-system to heed early warnings. In Somalia, the worst-affected country in the region, only 28 per cent of the UN funding appeal requirements had been met by June 2011, just weeks before famine was declared.

The report, by Development Initiatives, says that the needs of larger disasters have been met at the expense of smaller, less high-profile crises. Two recipients - Haiti and Pakistan - received 42 per cent of the total, while all other recipients saw a reduction in their share.

The report also found that only four per cent of official aid was spent on disaster prevention and preparedness between 2006 and 2010.

Mortality and malnutrition rates in Somalia remain among the highest in the world, and about 2.5 million Somalis survive on humanitarian aid.

"In 2011, the world didn't act until famine was declared, and the delay cost lives and money," the country director for Oxfam, Senait Gebregziabher, said. "Now, with the warning signs of a worsening crisis, lessons from last year must be learned."

The report can be downloaded at: www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org/report/gha-report-2012

Support for Malawi. Aid payments to Malawi, which were suspended in July last year, should be reinstated, MPs on the International Development Committee have said.

Direct funds to the Malawi exchequer - known as general budget support - were stopped over concerns about mismanagement and human-rights violations.

In a report released on Tuesday, the committee said that since President Joyce Banda came to power, in April last year, many of her predecessor's policies had been reversed. The Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce, who chairs the cross-party body, said: "Malawi has seen dramatic changes over recent months. . . If this progress is maintained, general budget support will be the most efficient option."


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