Top donor countries failing ordinary Syrians affected by the conflict

Posted by Ian Bray Senior Humanitarian Press Officer

19th Sep 2013

New analysis shows France, Qatar, Russia are all giving less than half of their fair share

Research carried out by international aid agency Oxfam reveals that many donor countries are failing to provide their share of the urgently needed funding for the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis. 

While the need for a political solution to the crisis is as urgent as ever, Oxfam says donors must also prioritise funding the UN's £3bn ($5bn) appeals. Qatar and Russia have both committed just three per cent of what would be considered their fair share for the humanitarian effort, while France is struggling to reach half of its fair share (47 per cent). In contrast the UK has given 154 per cent of its fair share and Kuwait tops the league table with 461 per cent.

Colette Fearon, Head of Oxfam Syria programme, said: "Too many donor countries are not delivering the level of funds that is expected of them. While economic times are tough, we are facing the largest man-made humanitarian disaster in two decades and we have to seriously address it. The scale of this crisis is unprecedented and some countries must start to show their concerns to the crisis in Syria by putting their hands in their pockets.

"Countries such as France and Russia are failing to provide the humanitarian support that is desperately needed. Donors must make real commitments at next week's meeting on Syria and ensure that the money is delivered as soon as possible. This is not the time for pledges. The situation demands committed funds in order to save lives."

The research, released in advance of next week's high-level donor meeting in New York (on Wednesday September 25th), calculates the amount of aid that should be given according to a country's Gross National Income (GNI) and its overall wealth. 

A third of all countries who are members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic and Development (OECD), whose members account for some of the richest countries in the world, have given less than half of what would be expected, given the size of their economies.   

Japan, for example, has contributed just 17 per cent of its fair share and South Korea a meagre two per cent. The United States is currently the largest donor to the UN appeals, giving 63 per cent of its fair share, but must do more to help those affected by the Syrian conflict.

Several countries have given generously. Those who have exceeded their fair share include Denmark (230 per cent), Norway (134 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (187 per cent).  The aid agency welcomes new pledges of funding at the recent G20 meeting, but says funds need to be released as soon as possible to provide desperately needed aid.

Colette Fearon said: "When funding is so tight every aid pound counts. We're seeing people go without food, shelter and water on a daily basis.  By knowing who is providing what assistance and where, we can help as many people as possible."

Funding gaps are already affecting the ability of organisations to respond to humanitarian needs and forcing them to make difficult decisions about how to use limited aid money.  

Oxfam is also calling on all donor contributions to be registered with the Financial Tracking System, to maximise aid efficiency and accountability. 

In June, the UN launched a £3bn ($5bn) appeal for Syria, the largest ever in its history, but this remains just 44 per cent funded.  Other international appeals are also struggling for funds. Oxfam's own emergency appeal for £30.7m ($48.9m), its largest ever, is only 39 per cent funded.

The humanitarian situation continues to worsen, with more than two million people having fled their country and registered as refugees and more than four million more needing urgent assistance inside Syria.  

Notes to editors:

Oxfam's fair share analysis study can be downloaded here (PDF 230KB).

Oxfam's calculations are based on data from the UN's Financial Tracking Service, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, ECHO (The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department), along with other bilateral contributions confirmed by donors. 

In its assessment estimating total needs, the study analysed four appeals: from the 2013 UN Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan and Refugee Response Plan 5, IFRC and ICRC.

The study focuses on funds committed, not just pledged.  Funding data was drawn from the UN Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and in consultation with donor governments. It includes contributions made to other multilateral channels such as the European Commission's Humanitarian Office (ECHO);   the UN's Central Emergency Fund (CERF) and bilateral contributions. 

A country's fair share has been estimated as a percentage, based on Gross National Income (GNI). The fair share includes countries in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), as well as non DAC high-income countries and Russia.

Blog post written by Ian Bray

Senior Humanitarian Press Officer

More by Ian Bray