Global spending on humanitarian relief soared to a record $24.5 billion last year as conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan combined with natural disasters such as typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, drove donors to pay out more emergency aid than ever before. Turkey was the world's third-largest donor of humanitarian aid last year, spending $1.6 billion on the Syrian refugees within its borders, according to Development Initiatives, a specialist independent think tank.
The Syrian conflict continued to be one of the most expensive humanitarian disasters with $3.1 billion spent on shelter, food and emergency relief for refugees. After holding a Syria pledging summit, Kuwait increased its humanitarian spending more than any donor government, recording a 2,315 percent increase from last year. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait more than doubled their combined contribution to United Nations appeals in 2014, raising $1.6 billion. The largest of these donors, Saudi Arabia, trebled its input to $755 billion, placing it among the top 10 providers, a list traditionally dominated by Western nations. As well as government aid the funding includes donations from the European Union and private donors seeking to address the needs of a rising number of people, including those displaced by crises in the Middle East and Africa. Despite the additional funds, Development Initiatives said agencies struggled to cope with larger numbers displaced from war zones such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Sophia Swithern, head of the Global Humanitarian Assistance programme at Development Initiatives, said about two thirds of global humanitarian aid continued to go to long term recipients such as Somalia and Pakistan.
"Within humanitarian financing, there is a need to increase resources from more diverse donors, and bring about smarter means of delivering them," she said in a statement. "In a year of global discussions on development and climate change, these unprecedented levels of need and continued shortfalls in funding highlight the need to sustainably address the underlying causes and long term impacts of crisis."
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said only a quarter of required funds had been received, leaving a shortfall in aid donations of about $14 billion.