[ISTANBUL] Spending on humanitarian relief has tripled in the last 10 years but is still too small to meet demand, a top UN official told AFP Tuesday as she called for a fundamental re-think of the aid system.
"We are spending as a world now three times as much on humanitarian relief as we did 10 years ago and it is still not enough. Every appeal is under-subscribed," said Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
"That tells you something is fundamentally wrong. And that is why the funders are also looking for new approaches," Ms Clark, one of the leading candidates to succeed Ban Ki-moon as UN secretary general this year, said at the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
The former New Zealand premier and leader in global development told AFP the two-day summit "presents the opportunity to do things better".
"It's got people thinking: could we have more sustainable approaches, even with a profound crisis like Syria?" she said.
UN and non-governmental humanitarian agencies have repeatedly called for concrete action on stepping up aid, particularly in and around Syria and Iraq, where war has forced millions to flee their homes in recent years.
Emphasising that relief aid in case of conflicts and natural disasters was always going to be needed, Ms Clark said that preventing crises from erupting in the first place was crucial.
She said helping to sustain an existing community with basic services "costs a fraction" of the amount paid once people have become refugees or displaced people.
"I think the time has come to be realistic and to get the most value from the dollars spent on development," she said.