EMBARGOED TO THE MEDIA UNTIL TUESDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2003, 1100 HRS NEW YORK TIME
2004 Humanitarian Appeals
People in need
More than 45 million people are struggling to survive the painful consequences of conflicts and natural disasters. They are victims and survivors, sometimes of several crises at once: war, drought, poverty, and HIV/AIDS.
As this Appeal shows, these people live amidst 21 crises across the world, the majority of them in Africa. At the same time, this Appeal calls attention to the plight of millions more people in need in other crises, such as Afghanistan and Colombia.
Behind the statistics are ordinary people, each with their lives, hopes and dreams. They are people living in extraordinary situations.
Many have been displaced from their homes, had their lives severely disrupted, and lost their livelihoods and belongings.
It may be hard to imagine. There's a war; your home is destroyed, schools and hospitals stop working, gas and electricity go out. Safety and security are a hope, not a reality.
Savings and possessions disappear. People need food, and much more, to survive.
In such situations, the youngest, oldest, and weakest people, who often depend most on community support, are the worst affected.
Compassion may be a natural reaction, but people struggling to survive against overwhelming odds rarely want our pity. Instead they need our practical support to help them to respond, recover and get their normal lives back.
Pitiful images of helpless victims, therefore, do a disservice to people's efforts to survive. They mask the reality that most people do not wait passively for aid, but struggle hard to cope, drawing on all their capacities, resources, and courage.
Estimated numbers of beneficiaries in CAP 2004
CAP: Number of appeals in Africa
For 2004, the humanitarian community has worked together to identify needs by sector, for example food, health, shelter, and education. They have prepared plans to work with national governments and local organizations: 136 agencies are proposing 1,086 projects to meet the needs of people facing acute risks to their lives.
The plans reflect a commitment to coordinated aid work and agreement on a core agenda to protect life, uphold rights, and ensure health and basic subsistence.
Specialization aside, all humanitarian agencies are concerned with alleviating human suffering, and saving and sustaining lives. Agencies are aware that, ultimately, they share the same goals and that the best way to proceed is in partnership.
Few would disagree with the definition of the humanitarian goal stated at the June 2003 International Meeting on Good Humanitarian Donorship in Stockholm: "To save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters," and "to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations."
But the task of
"saving lives" inevitably involves more than this. It also means rebuilding
destroyed societies, restoring basic services and strengthening systems that
protect people. The humanitarian agenda, therefore, often extends to
reconstruction, recovery, transition and peace building.
Humanitarian aid therefore also helps governments to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals agreed in 2000.
In 2004, agencies expect to build on their successes. Among more visible achievements in 2003, humanitarian organizations carried out large-scale polio eradication campaigns in several African countries, fed people as war raged in Liberia, resettled people in Angola and Indonesia, helped avert famine in Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Southern Africa, and provided potable water to people in Chechnya (Russian Federation).
In each of the world's crises, aid agencies providing food, shelter, and medicine helped to save and sustain countless lives. And while aid workers faced growing risks to their personal safety, they continued to provide aid to people in need.
Nonetheless, humanitarian aid is not a solution to the world's crises. Aid workers can address humanitarian needs; but they cannot solve underlying political, economic and social problems that cause and perpetuate these crises.
Consolidated Appeals for 2004 (US$)
Some 20 donor governments, meeting in Stockholm in June 2003, again committed themselves to responding to humanitarian needs.
Donors expressed concern at the large number of people affected by complex emergencies, and noted that responses had significant shortcomings and that needs were not being met.
The principles of "humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence," they agreed, must guide humanitarian donors. They should work to save human lives and alleviate suffering wherever it is found, on the basis of need without discriminating against or favouring any side to a conflict, and to act independently of political, military, and economic objectives.
Ten largest donors to CAP 2003, measured by US$
Ten largest donors to CAP 2003, measured by contributions as a proportion of GDP1
1GDP data are for 2002, provided by the World Bank
Citizens of many nations share a basic humanitarian ethic that prompts them to help people caught in the world's humanitarian crises. We have seen time and again how ordinary citizens give generously when they see people in dire need on TV.
This should not be surprising. That we should treat others as we would like them to treat us is a central tenet in many religious and moral codes. Those who can should help those in need. Further, humanitarians regret that, in a world of plenty, people in the world's crises live in fear and die without food and medicines.
Whether global citizens' urge to help others in need is a fundamental human instinct or a global extension of community spirit, it is surely a sign that the voices of millions of affected people will be heard.
For reasons in addition to ethics, governments are increasingly willing to invest in human security worldwide. The security of people living in donor nations today is linked to the safety and well-being of people elsewhere.
Some donors have made human security a cornerstone of their foreign and development policies. Canada, for one, sees humanitarian aid as a means of enhancing the security of Canadians, as well as a moral obligation. "Events in recent years have reconfirmed that, in an increasingly interdependent world, the safety and security of Canadians at home are inextricably linked to the safety of those living beyond our borders," said Bill Graham, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2002.
This reflects a shift in global security thinking. On 1 May 2003, the Commission on Human Security proposed a new people-centred security framework to the United Nations, designed to shield people from "critical and pervasive threats" and to "empower" them.
Many humanitarians recognize the complex connections among crises, widespread suffering, underdevelopment, forced migration and global security. They see, for example, how children in conflict zones who are victims of violence themselves may be drawn into perpetuating violence and insecurity.
Donors who help people in need hold that their assistance may help to prevent refugee flows to their country. Indeed, many donors perceive a link between crises in other countries, forced migration, and national security.
Rights not charity?
Donors understand that people have a right to life and to receive basic assistance when in need, and that the international community has an obligation to uphold such rights. This may explain why donor funding to human rights within humanitarian work has increased in recent years.
Under international laws on humanitarian aid, refugees, and human rights, people have the right to assistance and protection, even when their governments or rulers are unable or unwilling to provide it.
Moreover, during the past decade, people's rights and their realization has become a central debate in the United Nations Security Council, especially about Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, and Somalia.
Among humanitarian organizations, there has been a shift towards rights-based humanitarianism. Many humanitarians would like to see aid evolve from a free-floating act of kindness to one rooted in explicit values, precise political contracts and types of assistance, based on law.
Aid agencies are aware that, despite the generosity of donors, the current financing system does not provide a guaranteed base for meeting humanitarian requirements.
Viewed as a whole, the financing of humanitarian aid is insufficient. In 2003, contributions fell well below requirements to fund projects and meet identified needs.
Agencies sought US$ 5.1 billion through the 2003 CAP, and received US$ 3.3 billion. And while this means that donors helped to meet 65.6 per cent of needs, concerns remain about funding gaps.
Most humanitarian workers have first-hand experience of the impact of under-funding. They have seen how life-threatening risks are not addressed or averted because of insufficient or the late arrival of resources.
Humanitarian funding requests are clearly large in absolute terms, but pale in comparison to other global expenditure patterns. Currently, the world spends some US$ 10 billion on humanitarian aid, compared to US$ 794 billion on the military, according to figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The amount requested for 2004, US$ 3 billion, is equivalent to people in donor nations each making a contribution of about US$ 3, the cost of a magazine or two cups of coffee.
Percentage of funds received for CAP 2003 per quarter
Percentage of requirements received per Consolidated Appeal 2003
Another issue is that financing is unbalanced because donors respond more to some crises than others. Spending per capita varies sharply from US$ 25 in some crises to US$ 180 in others. Compared to high-profile crises like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, funding for forgotten crises like Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo is relatively low.
This pattern is now well documented. Of a total of 78 appeals covering 34 countries between 2000 and 2003 (to date), half of total CAP contributions went to just seven appeals. Contributions as a percentage of appealed requirements for those seven averaged 75%, while for the remainder they averaged only 54%. The former Yugoslavia, the largest recipient from 1995-2000, received up to a fifth of donations during that period.
Moreover, humanitarian aid is often driven by political concerns. A new study by the Humanitarianism and War Project at Tufts University concludes, "Humanitarian action is largely imbedded within competing and sometimes inconsistent domestic and foreign policy priorities." The study also notes that "domestic politics now plays an even greater role.
Humanitarian financing is further distorted by the limited number of donors. Just 10 countries typically provide over 90 per cent of all official humanitarian aid. Indeed, OECD members and the world’s top 500 corporations, for example, could do more to finance vital humanitarian aid.
For aid agencies planning their operations, humanitarian financing is unpredictable. Nearly all donor contributions remain entirely voluntary.
Three studies in 2003 concluded that donors needed to provide adequate resources, with greater predictability and greater scale of contributions, if multilateral agencies are to function effectively. Donors are aware of these issues and are seeking ways improve the financing system.
Donors meeting annually in Montreux, Switzerland, are looking to develop a strong multilateral response, "with the necessary mandate, capacity, and resources" to meet humanitarian needs in an impartial and effective way.
Donors who met in Stockholm under the Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative in 2003, meanwhile, promised to "strive to ensure flexible and timely funding, on the basis of the collective obligation of striving to meet humanitarian needs." They also pledged to "explore the possibility of reducing, or enhancing the flexibility of, earmarking, and of introducing longer-term funding arrangements."
The fulfilment of all these pledges would make humanitarian financing more balanced and predictable.
In 1991, following a problematic response to the plight of Iraqi Kurdish refugees in the wake of the first Gulf War, the United Nations General Assembly created the Consolidated Appeals.
The Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) is a mechanism used by aid organizations to plan, implement and monitor their activities. Working together in the world's crisis regions, they produce a Common Humanitarian Action Plan and an appeal, which they present to the international community and donors.
As a planning mechanism, the CAP has contributed significantly to developing a more strategic approach to the provision of humanitarian aid.
As a coordination mechanism the CAP has fostered closer cooperation between governments, donors, aid agencies, and a range of other humanitarian organizations.
Since its inception, the CAP has become the humanitarian sector’s main tool for coordination, strategic planning and programming. Speaking with a common voice, agencies have been able to demand greater protection, get better access to vulnerable populations and work more effectively with governments and other actors. Such unity will be more important than ever in the hazardous security environments where agencies must often work and which will require greater resources to be dedicated to security for national and international humanitarian workers alike.