Ban Ki-moon calls for steps to plug $15bn gap and meet aid demands

DUBAI // Channelling a fraction of hundreds of billions of dollars in Islamic finance and a voluntary government “solidarity levy” for humanitarian aid are among the recommendations in a new UN report. Urgent action and global cooperation is needed to close a US$15 billion (Dh55.10bn) funding gap in providing aid to millions of people who […]

DUBAI // Channelling a fraction of hundreds of billions of dollars in Islamic finance and a voluntary government “solidarity levy” for humanitarian aid are among the recommendations in a new UN report.

Urgent action and global cooperation is needed to close a US$15 billion (Dh55.10bn) funding gap in providing aid to millions of people who need help, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told delegates during a ceremony in Dubai to announce the findings of the report, titled Too Important to Fail – Addressing the Humanitarian Financial Gap.

“We are living in the age of the mega-crises,” Mr Ban said during the event at International Humanitarian City.

“We are seeing all-time-high numbers for the amounts of money requested through humanitarian appeals, the amounts raised from generous donors, and scale of the global humanitarian funding gap.”

The solution requires fresh thinking and the determination to take bold decisions, he said.

The UN high-level panel on humanitarian financing, comprising public and private sector experts, conducted the research for the report. They interviewed hundreds of people working with the humanitarian aid system as well as those affected by crises around the world.

The report highlights several areas where action could be taken.

These include tapping into the estimated $560 billion that circulates annually in zakat donations, and creating the “solidarity levy”, similar to those used by some countries on airline tickets, to provide a steady flow of revenue for aid projects.

Another recommendation was to allow medium-income countries such as Lebanon to be eligible for World Bank International Development Association funding to help them pay for refugees they have taken in.

Other proposed measures were focusing a higher proportion of aid to preventing crises, and a “grand bargain” between donors and aid organisations to stretch existing money to reach those in need by improving efficiency and transparency.

Greater emergency funding was also suggested. The report called for tripling the International Development Authority’s Crisis Response Window and expanding the funding capacity for emergencies in other development finance institutions.

Since the panel began their work last May, “the needs created by the demand for humanitarian aid have continued to rise dramatically”, said Mr Ban. Despite the current crises, the report “clearly demonstrates” that the funding gap is a “solvable problem”, he said.

Mr Ban is set to publish his own report in a few weeks looking at the vision for the future of humanitarian aid building on the panel’s work.

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commission vice president for budget and human resources, who served as co-chairwoman for the report, told delegates that 125 million people needed aid with a record $25 billion spent on aid each year.

But the demand ii continuing to outpace growth.

“A gap of $15 billion is a lot of money but in a world producing $78 trillion of GDP it should not be out of reach to find,” said Ms Georgieva.

“Closing the gap would mean nobody having to die or live without dignity for lack of money and a victory for humanity at a time when one is greatly needed.”

It is hoped the report will act as a catalyst for change at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May this year.

nhanif@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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