En irakisk flicka i ett tält från UNHCR, FN:s organ för flyktingfrågor, i ett flyktingläger utanför Baghdad.

Photo: Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Scanpix

Humanitarian aid

The world's humanitarian needs are on the increase

Updated: 2 September 2015

A humanitarian disaster is a more or less unpredictable event that causes great destruction and human suffering, and where assistance from national or international level is needed.  The global trend is unfortunately negative – more are affected each year. 

During 2014 the humanitarian needs of the world escalated to record-high levels. This was a consequence of several mega-crises, such as those in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and other protracted crises such as those in DR Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Palestine as well as the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa.

In 2014 the annual appeal from UN regarding larger humanitarian crises reached the highest numbers ever. The appeal regarded 76 million people affected by crises and the cost for the required support was estimated to almost 18 billion US dollars. Only 52 percent of the need was financed, according to the OCHA.

Alarming trend

The increasing number of persons in the world affected by armed conflict is alarming. More and more civilians are exposed to violence and abuse. According to the UNHCR about 60 million persons in the world are refugees in 2015 because of armed conflicts. That is the highest number since WWII.

Another growing problem is the increasing violence directed towards aid workers, for example medical staff in conflict areas. This is obstructing the possibilities to implement relief interventions. One possible cause for this increase is that many of the combatants today are non-state actors who are not familiar with (or does not respect) humanitarian principles.

Natural disasters

During 2014 about 102 million people were affected by 271 natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and draught. Lingering disasters often hit hardest and take most lives, for instance draught with starvation as consequence. But those disaster situations can be affected. That is why it is of great importance in development cooperation have a preventive perspective when working in communities at risk of disasters.


Page owner: Communication Unit

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