$40B needed to aid people affected by war, natural disasters: UN panel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - An estimated $40 billion is needed annually to help the rapidly growing number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of conflicts and natural disasters - and one possibility to help fill the $15 billion funding gap is a small voluntary tax on tickets for soccer games and other sports, concerts and entertainment events, airline travel, and gasoline, a UN-appointed panel said.

See Full Article

The panel's report on humanitarian financing, launched Sunday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, says the world is spending around $25 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters - more than 12 times the $2 billion that was spent in 2000.

The nine-member panel calculated that an additional $15 billion is needed annually to reduce suffering and save lives. It warned that if current trends continue, the cost of humanitarian assistance will rise to $50 billion by 2030.

"This is an age of mega-crises," Ban said at the launch event, which was held at a desert site in Dubai that serves as a logistical hub for UN emergency humanitarian supplies and international relief efforts.

The 31-page report said that despite $25 billion being spent last year to provide life-saving assistance to people around the world, 1.6 million Syrian refugees had their food rations cut and 750,000 Syrian refugees could not attend school.

"While record sums are being given to the noble cause of humanitarian action, generosity has never been so insufficient. We cannot go on like this," Ban said, adding that humanitarian assistance is now the U.N's costliest activity, surpassing peacekeeping missions.

The report focuses on three solutions for how to reform humanitarian aid: mobilizing additional funds, particularly from the private sector; shrinking the need for aid through prevention and quicker resolution of problems, and improving the efficiency of assistance to reflect the needs of people rather than the needs of aid organizations.

It calls for donors and aid organizations to come together in "a Grand Bargain" in which donors provide more cash, long-term, with fewer strings, and aid organizations are more transparent so that everyone can "follow the money."

The report says that today's massive instability and its capacity to cross borders, demonstrated by the flight of people from Syria and other conflict areas to Europe, makes humanitarian aid a global public good.

"What we ought to do is morally right, but it is also in our own self-interest because trouble in the world travels, and you never know when it will come and knock at your door," panel co-chair Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commission's vice-president for budget and human resources, said in Dubai.

The report recommends that at the first UN humanitarian summit, to be held in Istanbul in May, governments voluntarily sign on to the concept of a "solidarity levy" to create a steady flow of aid.

The report gives the example of a small levy on airline tickets, initially proposed by France, which raised 1.6 billion euros between 2006 and 2011 from just 10 participating countries - Georgieva estimated this at $2.3 billion - to help fund diagnosis and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in low-income countries.

Georgieva said in a video briefing from Brussels before the report's release that the panel couldn't agree on the specifics of a levy because some members are against taxation. But she said she is "more optimistic on a voluntary levy, especially combined with social responsibility."

She said the panel talked about a small tax on "high-volume transaction businesses" like Uber, concerts, entertainment, movies and sports and has been talking to some "potential players" including FIFA, the governing body of world football.

She said people probably wouldn't feel a five-cent or 10-cent addition to a ticket or a ride, but the money generated could have a major humanitarian impact.

The report also calls for governments with greater wealth to provide more aid; for the humanitarian community to "harness the power of business to deliver its key skills and capabilities," including by supporting the delivery of aid and creating jobs, and for Muslim countries to use "Islamic social finance" to help meet humanitarian needs. The report said that 31 out of 33 active conflicts today occur in Muslim-majority countries.

The report noted that through zakat, the annual charitable donation that is religiously required as a basic tenet of the Islamic faith, Muslims worldwide raised between $232 billion and $560 billion in 2015. However, the report said there is no co-ordination mechanism or independent body to help channel these funds effectively at the global level.

To improve aid delivery, the panel calls for an end to competition between aid organizations and between humanitarian and development agencies.

To shrink the need for aid, the panel calls for world leaders to commit to preventing and resolving conflicts and to increasing investments in reducing the risk of natural disasters.

"Unfortunately, it is easier to deliver humanitarian assistance than it is to invest in political solutions," the report said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'An angel': Burnaby pays tribute to slain girl found in park

    Canada News CTV News
    Family, friends and others from the community of Burnaby, B.C., were on hand Saturday night to pay tribute to Marrisa Shen, the 13-year-old who was found dead in a city park. There were plenty of tears and questions at a candlelight vigil for the slain girl, as investigators are still struggling to piece together the final 12 hours before her body was found. Source
  • Citizenship study guide getting revamp as taxes, census, treaties described as obligations

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA - Respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples, paying taxes and filling out the census are listed as mandatory obligations of Canadian citizenship in a draft version of a new study guide for the citizenship exam. The working copy obtained by The Canadian Press suggests the federal government has completely overhauled the book used by prospective Canadians to prepare for the test. Source
  • Israel installs cameras at holy site amid flaring tensions

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM -- Israel set up new security cameras Sunday at the entrance to a sensitive Jerusalem holy site as officials consider alternatives to recently installed metal detectors that set off a weekend of violence and prompted the Palestinian president to declare a severing of ties. Source
  • Ontario announces new mental health workers for troubled Pikangikum First Nation

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins is announcing funding for 20 full-time mental health workers for Pikangikum First Nation -- a remote community struggling with a suicide crisis and pressing mental health needs from about 380 people seeking counselling. Source
  • Key vote looms for Russia sanctions bill opposed by Trump

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Republican-led House is set to vote soon on a sweeping Russia sanctions package that defies the White House by demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump get Congress' permission before lifting or easing the economic penalties against Moscow. Source
  • 'I will take dramatic action': Scaramucci threatens to chop staff if White House leaks don't stop

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump's new communications director says he will take "dramatic action," including cutting staff, if leaks originating from the administration don't stop. In his first round of media interviews since his press conference after being named to one of the top jobs in Washington, D.C. Source
  • Five shot inside east-end Toronto bar

    Canada News CTV News
    Five people were shot inside an east-end Toronto bar early Sunday morning. Police said shots were fired inside McGradies Tap & Grill around 2:30 a.m. Three victims were located inside the bar and transported to the hospital. Source
  • Baby Charlie Gard protesters to rally as hospital reports threats

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON - Protesters who want critically ill British baby Charlie Gard to receive an experimental medical treatment are planning a rally and prayer vigil Sunday, while hospital officials say emotions are running so high in the heart-breaking case they have received death threats. Source
  • Sergei Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the U.S., ends his term

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- The Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, a prominent figure in the controversy over Russia's possible involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has ended his assignment in Washington. The Russian Embassy in Washington announced on Twitter that Kislyak's tenure ended on Saturday. Source
  • Good Samaritans double stolen sock donations for homeless shelter

    Canada News CTV News
    A Toronto man was overcome with gratefulness after his co-workers and members of the public helped replace stolen goods meant for a homeless shelter. Thomas Aquino was devastated when 450 pairs of socks and two bags of canned goods meant for the Good Shepherd homeless shelter were stolen from his van. Source