2017– record high for Germany’s humanitarian assistance

Dramatic situation: Millions of people around the world are dependent on aid

Dramatic situation: Millions of people around the world are dependent on aid , © WFP

05.01.2018 - Article

Never before were so many people around the world dependent on humanitarian assistance as they were last year. German support for those in need, which reached a new high in 2017, is thus all the more important

The Federal Foreign Office made available more than 1.75 billion euros for humanitarian assistance around the world in 2017 – a record amount. Germany has thus taken on responsibility for those in need. The country actively works to promote humanitarian assistance at donor conferences, in dialogue with humanitarian partners and political decision-makers, at EU level and in the United Nations. German humanitarian assistance is based on the principle of humanity. It is non partisan, independent and neutral.

Syria and ist neighbouring countries

Millions of people within Syria and in neighbouring countries rely on humanitarian assistance. In addition to providing people with food, medicine and other aid relief, humanitarian efforts are focusing on protecting groups that are most vulnerable, such as children, women and senior citizens, and on accessing the areas under siege. However, the United Nations’ aid programmes for Syria and the region are still significantly underfunded. Germany is providing active help: in 2017, the German Government made available approximately 720 million euros in total for humanitarian assistance in the context of the Syria crisis and, as co chair of the donor conference in Brussels, motivated others to donate. Germany is thus the second-largest donor of humanitarian aid in the region after the United States.

Acute humanitarian crises in Africa

 In April, with the Berlin Humanitarian Call, Foreign Minister Gabriel drew attention to the hunger crises in north east Nigeria, South Sudan, the Horn of Africa as well as in Yemen and pledged extensive German engagement. What is more, over four million people have fled their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to other parts of the country or neighbouring countries as a result of ongoing armed conflicts. The situation is particularly tense in the central crisis region of Kasaï, where more than three million people are in need of food aid and 400,000 children are at risk of acute malnutrition. With support from Germany, relief organisations such as the World Food Programme are endeavouring to secure the livelihoods of people displaced from their homes. In total, Germany provided more than 430 million euros of humanitarian assistance for the African continent in 2017.

The major humanitarian crisis in Yemen

In Yemen, 22 million people depend on humanitarian assistance, many of whom are starving, and those in need are suffering due to a cholera epidemic of frightening proportions. Ongoing fighting in many parts of the country is making it difficult for humanitarian aid workers to reach those who require help. Germany is making a significant contribution to ease the suffering. Currently, an additional 40 million euros are being made available to United Nations humanitarian aid programmes. This funding is being used, for example, to supply food rations to the needy, to fund cholera treatment centres and to improve the drinking water supply. The Federal Foreign Office provided a total of 165 million euros for humanitarian projects in Yemen in 2017.
Necessary even after the liberation from the IS: humanitarian assistance for Iraq
Millions of people have fled their homes to other parts of Iraq. The Iraqi Government has announced the military victory over the IS, but a large portion of the infrastructure in the embattled areas is destroyed. Some 11 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance. The aid projects supported by the Federal Foreign Office focus on accommodation, healthcare and access to safe drinking water. Equally important is the clearance of the landmines and booby-traps remaining in the conflict zones around Mosul, for otherwise the safe return of those displaced will not be possible. For this alone, the Federal Foreign Office has made available 11.5 million euros. Germany is the second-largest humanitarian donor to Iraq. In the past three years, the Federal Foreign Office has supported the people of Iraq to the tune of over 500 million euros.

The Rohingya crisis

This is one of the refugee crises which have only recently become a focus of international attention. Since the end of August, Bangladesh has taken in more than 650,000 Rohingya fleeing from the province of North Rakhine in neighbouring Myanmar. The Rohingya – a Muslim minority in Myanmar, a country with a Buddhist majority population – are not recognised as citizens and there have been multiple waves of expulsion. Many refugees live under extremely difficult circumstances in rapidly expanding camps and there are ever more problems with the supply of food and drinking water. Germany has been funding relief projects for the Rohingya for some time now. Foreign Minister Gabriel visited the region in November and pledged further German help. In 2017, Germany provided a total of 25.8 million euros

A forgotten humanitarian crisis in Europe - eastern Ukraine

According to United Nations estimates, four million people in Ukraine are dependent on humanitarian aid: food, water, hygiene products and basic everyday supplies. More than three million people have fled eastern Ukraine. Many of those who remain are elderly, ill, or have disabilities. Yet many relief organisations are no longer able to work in the areas controlled by the separatists: it is often difficult for them to register with the de facto authorities. The separatists are refusing to allow international NGOs access to those in need.
Together with German and international partners, the Federal Foreign Office is funding food deliveries and medical care for the people affected by the conflict. Just as importantly, it supports the provision of drinking water and sanitation. Psychosocial programmes are being run to help people cope with their experiences in the war. Another component of Germany’s comprehensive assistance package is mine and ordnance clearance – this year alone more than 85 people have been killed by landmines or booby-traps. Germany has been helping the people in Ukraine since the conflict started and has become the largest donor tackling the humanitarian crisis there. In 2017 alone, it contributed more than 23 million euros for relief projects. Moreover, the German Government is working to ensure better access for humanitarian aid workers.

#nichtvergesser spotlights the situations of people in forgotten crises

It is precisely those caught up in humanitarian emergencies that are not in the media spotlight who need support. These forgotten humanitarian crises are mainly protracted conflicts that require a major humanitarian response, but that receive only little media coverage, not to mention insufficient aid and donations. The Federal Foreign Office, along with German aid organisations and prominent figures have launched the #nichtvergesser initiative to draw attention to neglected humanitarian crises.

Eliminating danger after crisis - humanitarian mine clearance 

Landmines, unexploded ordnance and booby-traps kill or maim thousands of people around the world each year. That is why Germany is working actively for a global prohibition of anti personnel mines and cluster munitions and backing measures around the world in the field of mine and ordnance clearance. The German Government is one of the biggest international donors in this sphere. Alongside the actual clearance and disposal of ordnance, aid measures focus on victim care and efforts to raise public awareness among the population groups affected. The countries prioritised include Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Iraq and Ukraine. In 2017, Germany contributed approximately 75 million euros to these efforts, more than double the amount allocated the previous year.
The aim of all these initiatives is to work with the countries affected and other donor countries to create a world free of landmines and unexploded ordnance. This was also a key topic at the Conference on Humanitarian Mine and Ordnance Clearance organised by the Federal Foreign Office in Bonn last September.

Changing humanitarian assistance - new instruments, new partners

The humanitarian system is changing. Continually increasing humanitarian need requires new approaches in order to ensure that assistance remains efficient and needs-based. This entails the greater involvement of local humanitarian players and closer exchange among humanitarian organisations and those affected. It is also important that assistance is tailored to an even greater extent to the specific needs of people of all ages, men and women, and people with disabilities.
Germany is also supporting innovative approaches to humanitarian assistance, such as efforts to better predict humanitarian crises and to contain their impact to the greatest extent possible before they emerge. In spring 2017, for example, detailed extreme weather forecasting made it possible to pay out aid to those living in the regions affected in Bangladesh even before they had been hit by severe flooding. They were thus able to get themselves and their possessions to safety – before the floods started. The number of such emergencies will continue to rise in the face of climate change. That is why the Federal Foreign Office is supporting innovative preventive measures in many areas at risk. This saves lives and prevents unnecessary suffering.

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