Alarming drop in global funding to people in war and crisis

Published 02. Jul 2024
Halfway into 2024, only 18 percent of the funding needed for humanitarian assistance globally has been received.

“At a time when the world is falling apart for millions of people, we are seeing an increasing trend of international neglect. I have never before seen such a glaring gap between the need for lifesaving aid and available funding. The overall level of humanitarian assistance is totally insufficient, and just a few crises receive funding and attention while most are forgotten,” warned Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“The gap between the growing needs and the available funding has increased over the last decade, but last year was the first year with an actual drop in the amount of funding for humanitarian appeals. The outlook for this year is even bleaker, and more people in dire need are likely to be left without any support at all.”

Humanitarian needs continued to grow during the first half of the year, and 48.7 billion dollars are currently needed to meet the most acute needs.  A vast shortfall has developed, with only 9 billion dollars (18 per cent) received as of June 2024 according to OCHA’s mid-year update.

“It is devastating that nations are able to send satellites to the far side of the moon, but unwilling to prevent children from starving to death here on Earth,” said Egeland. “We are reliant on contributions from just a few countries, whilst many nations capable of providing more assistance are doing far too little,” added Egeland.

Around the world, food and cash assistance programmes are being cut. NRC staff have witnessed refugees returning to unsafe conflict areas owing to the reduction of support in their host communities. Others are forced to sell possessions – including farming tools which could otherwise support food security – or engage in transactional sex or early marriage in order to make ends meet.

The lack of funding for humanitarian assistance is in several countries also compounded by cuts or suspension in development assistance, as documented in a recent report by the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“Suspension of development assistance in many countries affected by political crises means the root causes of crisis situations are not being addressed, while humanitarian funds are being exhausted responding to a multitude of needs. It is vital that development financing actors remain engaged.”

Facts and figures:

  • 48.7 billion dollars are needed for UN and humanitarian partners meet the most pressing humanitarian needs in 2024. By 30 June, 9 billion dollars or 18 per cent has been contributed towards the humanitarian response plans.
  • Funding is often unequally distributed, leaving many crises drastically underfunded. In 2023, nearly half of the funding went to only five emergencies (Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, occupied Palestinian territories), neglecting critical areas like Sudan, Burkina Faso, DRC, Myanmar, and many more.
  • Among the most underfunded crises we find Burkina Faso (only 16% of the Humanitarian Response Plan is funded) which also topped NRC’s list of neglected displacement crises in 2023. Other severely underfunded crises include Sudan (17%), Venezuela (10%), Myanmar (12%), Ethiopia (14%) and El Salvador (14%).
  • Suspending or withdrawing development aid after an unconstitutional change of government often obliges already overstretched humanitarian actors to fill gaps in basic service provision such as health, education, water and sanitation, putting an additional burden on the underfunded global humanitarian system, according to the recent report by NRC, Weathering the storm.
  • Inaction costs lives. Lack of funding forces vulnerable populations into negative coping mechanisms like selling possessions, taking up loans, transactional sex, child labor or early marriage, perpetuating cycles of vulnerability and instability.
  • Ignoring humanitarian needs worsens suffering, fuels instability, undermines social cohesion, and prolongs conflicts, impacting regional and international stability.
  • Donor governments need to sustain, and even increase where possible, their humanitarian budgets, with a focus on equitable financing to neglected crises.
  • Traditional donors need to enhance dialogue and intensify their outreach to governments with the economic potential to assume a greater responsibility for increased and predictable needs-based humanitarian funding.

For information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

  • NRC's global media hotline:, +47 905 62 329