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[LONDON] Global humanitarian aid hit a record US$24.5 billion in 2014 boosted by a nearly US$1 billion extra from Gulf countries but the 20 percent increase in funds failed to meet growing needs in conflict and disaster-hit areas, new figures showed on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait more than doubled their combined contribution to United Nations appeals in 2014, raising US$1.6 billion, according to Development Initiatives, a specialist independent think tank.
The largest of these donors, Saudi Arabia, trebled its input to US$755 billion, placing it among the top 10 providers, a list traditionally dominated by Western nations.
As well as government aid the funding includes donations from the European Union and private donors seeking to address the needs of a rising number of people, including those displaced by crises in the Middle East and Africa.
Despite the additional funds, Development Initiatives said agencies struggled to cope with larger numbers displaced from war zones such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Sophia Swithern, head of the Global Humanitarian Assistance programme at Development Initiatives, said about two thirds of global humanitarian aid continued to go to long term recipients such as Somalia and Pakistan. "Within humanitarian financing, there is a need to increase resources from more diverse donors, and bring about smarter means of delivering them," she said in a statement. "In a year of global discussions on development and climate change, these unprecedented levels of need and continued shortfalls in funding highlight the need to sustainably address the underlying causes and long term impacts of crisis." The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said only a quarter of required funds had been received, leaving a shortfall in aid donations of about US$14 billion.
Of the US$18.8 billion in humanitarian assistance needed in global crisis hot spots only US$4.8 billion had been received, OCHA's six-monthly status report showed. "While donors give more generously every year, the gap between funds needed and funds provided continues to widen,"said Stephen O'Brien, UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs.
Intractible conflicts, extreme poverty and political instability mean future targets are equally unlikely to be met without more sustainable solutions in place, development experts said. "Beyond humanitarian assistance there is a need to understand and better mobilise both public and private resources across development, climate and security related finance," said Ms Swithern.