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Money alone cannot solve Syrian refugee crisis, says UN official Filed on March 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 22, 2016 at 06.10 am
Money alone cannot solve Syrian refugee crisis, says UN official
Syrian refugees wait for food aid in Lebanon.

(AFP file)

For every $100 spent on development aid, just forty cents is estimated to go into protecting that development from disaster.

In 2015, the United Nations stated 60 million people were forcibly displaced by war - half of which were children. This number is expected to rise to 1.9 billion by 2030. With humanitarian spending tripled in the last 20 years, there is a huge need to focus on innovation and development.

Speaking on the opening day of the 13th Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (Dihad) conference and exhibition on Monday, Helen Clark from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) used statistics to drum home the theme of this year's edition: The Importance of Innovation in Humanitarian Aid Development.

"Humanitarian spending has tripled with $2 trillion coming from the global economy. The idea of 'relief first and development later' isn't tenable anymore," said Clark, who is the Administrator of the UNDP.

Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand, said the conflict in Syria, which has been ongoing for six years, is a prime example of why development and innovation needs to take hold now.

"These people have had to put their life on hold. Of course relief is still hugely important but we need a mix of actions to strengthen the resilience of families living in these effected areas."

In 2015, $25 billion was spent on humanitarian aid, yet only 50-60 per cent of global humanitarian requirements have been funded over the last 10 years.

If this trend continues, by 2030 the global economy spend will rise to $50 billion per year, which is "not doable" according to Clark.

For every $100 spent on development aid, just forty cents is estimated to go into protecting that development from disaster.

"It's vital to build resilience into development," Clark said.

She said technology is offering up a lot of opportunities when it comes to anticipating conflict or disasters.

Though the UAE has been ranked first in the world as the largest donor for humanitarian aid, the leadership's focus on innovation could play a vital role in easing humanitarian suffering.

Speaking on behalf of Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Ibrahim Bumelha, Humanitarian Advisor to Shaikh Mohammed and Chairman of DIHAD said: "Innovation is the focus of DIHAD this year and with His Highness setting the goal to make Dubai an innovative hub in all fields, this conference is the perfect platform for knowledge sharing."

 Three steps to make use of the aid properly

According to the United Nations Development Programme, there are three fundamental shifts needed to help ease humanitarian suffering globally."Always look to reinforce national systems; get better at anticipating conflict or disasters; and transcend the global development divide," said Helen Clark, the Administrator of the UNDP.

The three-time prime minister of New Zealand said that the UN's current refugee and resilience plan in Syria, which is bringing together a broad range of partners to share early warning technologies is proving to be "very effective".


Kelly Clarke

Originally from the UK, Kelly Clarke joined Khaleej Times in November 2012. She has a keen interest in humanitarian issues and took over as the dedicated Education Reporter in August 2016. In her spare time she loves to travel off the beaten track, and often write about her quirky experiences of pastures new. Kelly received her BA Honours in Journalism from Middlesex University, UK in 2008. Before joining Khaleej Times she worked as a Supervising Editor for three Healthcare titles in London. @KellyAnn_Clarke

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