Humanitarian must do better

Food distribution in an IDP camp in Banki, Borno State, northeast Nigeria. @Unicef Norway

If humanitarian aid is first and foremost about the vital needs of populations in danger who have the conviction to respond and the capacity to act, it is also about funding. However, this year, if the needs are estimated at 50 billion dollars, the last international humanitarian aid budgets were 33 billion dollars according to official OECD figures known in 2021! Financing is indeed the global priority of international humanitarian aid.

On the eve of the European Humanitarian Forum, Dominic Crowley, president of VOICE, told us: “The European Union, with its member states, was traditionally the largest donor of humanitarian aid. Although still among the largest donors (FTS, UNOCHA), since 2021, the United States is now the largest individual donor. Even more worrying, only two EU member states (out of 27) are among the top ten global humanitarian donors.

For his part, Jean-Louis de Brouwer, who knows the European Commission and ECHO well, declared in an interview with our magazine: “The Commission, like others, is concerned not only about the growing gap between needs and resources, but also about the inequality in the way humanitarian aid is provided. The figures are clear: global humanitarian aid relies on a limited number of donors, always the same ones. It is therefore necessary to identify new sources of funding and to broaden the donor community around a new discourse on humanitarian aid.

In a recent article published in Défis Humanitaires, Cyprien Fabre, head of the OECD’s “crises and fragility” unit, indicated that Official Development Assistance (ODA) totaled $211 billion in 2021 and that the share of humanitarian aid was $33 billion, or 15% of the total. “Between 2010 and 2020, the total ODA of OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members increased by 33%, while their humanitarian ODA increased by 73% over the same period,” he adds. This trend reflects the evolution of international aid to meet the needs of vulnerable populations between humanitarian and development, which are both complementary and distinct.

Crisis and Support Center 2022 Activity Report

Si la France est l’un des principaux contributeurs dans le monde en matière d’APD, elle est en revanche le pays qui donne le moins à l’humanitaire au sein de l’OCDE avec un petit 1% alors que l

Germany and Great Britain devote 15% and the United States 31% of ODA! To be complete, we must specify that France is engaged in a process of catching up.

The humanitarian budget has tripled to 500 million euros between 2018 and 2022 and it has just practically doubled again at the beginning of 2023 to reach almost one billion euros between its different components (FUH, AAP, NUOI) of which probably 250 to 300 million euros this year for humanitarian emergencies, mainly with NGOs.

In order to project ourselves into the future knowing where we have started from, let us remember that we have come a long way. I have in front of me the report of the Crisis Center of the Quai d’Orsay, inaugurated on July 2, 2008 by Bernard Kouchner, where we can read for the year 2009: “The annual amount of subsidies granted varies according to the year between 4 and 9 million euros”. Faced with this anomaly, it was the so-called “Boinet-Miribel” report on French humanitarian aid, submitted in March 2010 and followed by eight years of constant advocacy, with the support and commitment of the various directors of the CDCS, that led to the system we know today. This can inspire us for the future.

At the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Crisis and Support Center is in charge of humanitarian affairs within the framework of the Humanitarian Strategy of the French Republic (SHRP), in connection with the NGO members of the Humanitarian Dialogue Group (GCH). The CDCS, which has demonstrated its capacity to implement these additional resources, is clearly ready to do more in 2023 and beyond.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, at the 2021 national humanitarian conference.

The next few months will be crucial for French humanitarian aid. The Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) will meet in May or June to decide on an increase in ODA, which NGOs are asking to reach 0.7% of our GNP. It is now or never to decide to allocate at least 15% of ODA to humanitarian aid, or even 20% and more, as the Irish, the Danes, the Swiss or the United States already do, so that France can live up to its responsibilities in the world.

Let’s remember that in his speech at the 5th National Humanitarian Conference in December 2020, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, had himself mentioned a necessary catching up of the humanitarian budget which still needs to be completed during this five-year period.

PS/ Your donation (make a donation) allows us to publish and develop Humanitarian Challenges, a free and independent website. Thank you for your support.

Alain Boinet.
President of Défis Humanitaires.