Humanitarian system “broke” rather than broken

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UNRWA distributes life-saving assistance to displaced civilians from Yarmouk in Yalda, Syria. Photo: UNRWA

The worldwide effort to provide humanitarian aid is not broken but it is broke due to a lack of funding, according to the UN’s top humanitarian official.

The international community has been meeting in New York to discuss how best to finance a steep global increase in humanitarian relief.

Daniel Dickinson reports

Humanitarian appeals to alleviate suffering from natural and man-made emergencies have grown by more than 600 per cent in the past decade.

Today, nearly US$20 billion is needed to tackle crises across the world.

The UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said the international community needs to find a new approach to dealing with crises.

“We’re here today to talk about a system which is not broken – but it is broke. Humanitarian aid was originally supposed to be a temporary measure – a first aid box. But today, we find we are giving first aid for years, while the underlying causes of the crisis go untreated.”

Most humanitarian funding this year will go to just five protracted emergencies; Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A panel has been established by the UN to look at how to provide more timely and predictable funding, as well as ways in which resources can be used more effectively.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’06″