Sunday, March 28, 2010

Aid must double to respond to natural disasters, UN warned

Kim Sengupta in the Independent (UK): The global humanitarian network is not "fit for purpose" and will struggle to cope with the Haiti-style natural disasters that will hit some of the world's poorest people as a result of climate change, Britain's International Development minister has warned.

So big are the challenges that the British Government will shortly recommend a doubling of the United Nations' relief funds budget from the current $500m to $1bn (£671m) and a radical overhaul of the system, the minister, Gareth Thomas, told The Independent. He noted that the number of people needing urgent aid is expected to rise from 250 million to more than 375 million in the next five years.

…Calling on the UN to carry out a thorough review of its procedures, Mr Thomas pointed out that while Britain has pledged $120m to the UN's Central Emergency Relief Fund (Cerf) over the next three years, some other Western countries have failed to pull their weight. Although he did not identify countries, aid groups have complained that France's contribution to Cerf is negligible, and the amounts provided by Germany and the US are small – although the Obama administration has boosted funding since taking office.

Cerf, which was set up after the Asian tsunami, has received increased funding over the years. However, its budget remains minuscule compared, say the aid agencies, to the $23 trillion that European countries contributed to bailing out the banking sector....

A tent city in Port au Prince, Haiti, January 2010, after the earthquake. Shot by UN Photo/Logan Abassi , Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 Generic license

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