This page was archived on October 2020.


Humanitarian relief

73 - Humanitarian response

Grade: B
Unity 4/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 5/10
Total 13/20

Apart from Spain, EU member states maintained levels of humanitarian aid. Overall, Europeans did better than on development aid.

Humanitarian agencies faced major crises including a drought in the Sahel and massive displacement in Syria in 2012. The humanitarian response in the Sahel was effective (see component 74), but by the end of the year it was increasingly clear that the humanitarian situation in Syria was out of control. Having faced major crises, including the Libyan war and famine in Somalia, in 2011, most EU member states maintained levels of humanitarian aid in 2012. This was true not only of major donors such as Germany, the Nordic countries, and the UK but also of relatively small donors. For example, Poland increased its humanitarian spending by 30 percent, though it amounted to less than €2 million. The main exception was Spain, which cut its humanitarian budget from over €300 million to under €150 million.

As in past years, the European Commission was a leading donor through its humanitarian arm, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), disbursing €1.3 billion in 2012, including all available emergency resources. The commission also took an important step forward in policy terms in October, releasing a communication committing it to promoting poor communities’ resilience to unforeseen shocks, as well as crisis response. Warnings of forthcoming food-price spikes, which are likely to lead to shortages, increased the need to focus on resilience.

Nonetheless, the scale of the ongoing crisis in Syria threatened to overwhelm European donors, with around 2.5 million citizens displaced inside the country or forced to flee elsewhere. By the end of 2012, the European Commission had devoted €165 million to the crisis and the UK had donated over €80 million, according to figures collected by the International Rescue Committee. Germany set aside an additional €40 million for Syria during the year. Yet the limits of this funding were underlined when the UN announced in late 2012 that it would need over €1 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria in the first half of 2013. The figure is likely to rise further as the war goes on.

Increasing humanitarian assistance, especially in the Sahel
Leaders: France - Germany - Ireland - Luxembourg - Netherlands - Sweden - United Kingdom
Slackers: Greece - Lithuania - Portugal - Slovenia - Spain