Gap in aid funding is a ‘solvable problem’

22 January 2016

UN PHOTO/MARK GARTEN

High-level: Ban Ki-moon (right) and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, before addressing the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, in Dubai, on Monday

High-level: Ban Ki-moon (right) and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, before addressing the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, in Dubai, on Mond...

A FUNDING shortfall of £10 billion for humanitarian aid needs to be addressed urgently, a UN report has said.

The world today spends about £18 billion a year on assistance for the 125 million people affected by conflict and natural disasters. This is 12 times more than was spent 15 years ago — but it is at least £10 billion less than is needed, the UN-appointed High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing concluded.

“We are living in the age of the mega-crises,” the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said last week in Dubai, at the launch of the report. “But, as this report clearly demonstrates, the gap in funding is a solvable problem.”

Given that the world produces £55 trillion a year, finding an extra £10 billion a year should not be “out of reach”, the report suggests. “Closing the humanitarian financing gap . . . would be a victory for humanity.”

The shortfall could be eliminated by a combination of reducing the need for aid by investing in poorer countries before disasters, generating additional funds, and making humanitarian assistance more efficient, the report suggests.

The report has come up with a variety of ways to raise more money. One idea was to introduce a micro-levy on mass purchases, such as airline tickets, or users of the Uber taxi app.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commission vice-president who co-chaired the panel, said that they had also been in touch with football’s governing body, FIFA, to determine whether its huge reserves could be tapped.

Given that 31 of the 33 active conflicts in the world are in countries with a Muslim majority, the Islamic world should be asked to contribute more, the report suggests.

The panel reported that work had already begun to see if zakat — the Islamic obligation of giving alms — and sharia-law-compliant bonds could help to address the growing humanitarian needs in the Middle East and beyond.

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