Adjana Mohamed is one of many people who have fled from the clutches of Boko Haram and found safety north in Cameroon. Photo: NRC/Tiril Skarstein

Alarming lack of funding for relief work

Published 15. Jul 2019|Updated 12. Jul 2019
Half way into the year, humanitarian organisations have received only 27 per cent of the money needed to provide relief to people affected by crises worldwide.

“The current lack of funding is alarming. Despite increasing needs, substantially less money is available for humanitarian assistance compared to the same period last year. We are deeply concerned for those people already feeling the hard consequences of cuts," said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Every year the UN and humanitarian organisations work together to launch humanitarian appeals based on needs assessments in countries affected by crises. This year, a total of $26 billion is required to provide relief for around 94 million people in need. So far, donor countries have contributed approximately $7 billion - 27 per cent of the money needed, according to the UN’s financial tracking service. This is about $2 billion less than the funding received half way into 2018.

“Let’s not be fooled into believing that the amount needed is too high or the job too difficult. It is a question of priorities. The world’s total military expenditure has increased to a whopping $1.8 trillion. The cost of closing the humanitarian funding gap and providing people with basic support equals to just about one per cent of this,” said Egeland.


Infographic: NRC


The crisis in Cameroon is among the most critically under-funded, with less than 20 per cent of the appeal covered so far this year. Assistance is also falling short for people in DR Congo, a country struck by a toxic cocktail of conflict, mass displacement and Ebola. Even funding for Syrian refugees is drying up.

“We used to work as traders. Now we do not even have enough money to send all our children to school. We want more livelihood opportunities, so that we can support our families,” said Adjana Mohamed, one of many people, who have fled from the clutches of Boko Haram and found safety north in Cameroon.

The current funding crisis is due to a combination of more protracted and longer-lasting humanitarian crises globally and the emergence of more self-interested policies in several rich countries.   

“Today many people hit by conflict, drought and starvation do not receive any assistance at all. Mothers are skipping meals to provide their malnourished children with whatever little food is available. Lack of proper latrines lead to the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera. And treatable illnesses are claiming lives due to the lack of medical support. All of this is fully preventable if there was political will,” said Egeland.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is appealing to donor countries to increase their humanitarian support and for new donor countries to step forward and disburse funding urgently.

“There is an urgent need for more funding to meet the growing humanitarian needs worldwide,” Egeland said. “The disbursement of funding early in the year will also enable a better planned and more efficient humanitarian response,” he added.