UN launches $15b humanitarian aid appeal
Shaikh Mohammed, Shaikh Hamdan, Princess Haya, Ban Ki-moon and other dignitaries at the International Humanitarian City in Dubai on Sunday.
Dubai - Shaikh Mohammed says UAE is one of the world's most generous supporters of international humanitarian causes.
The United Nations reached out to the UAE to help generate fund that could help close $15b shortfall in global humanitarian aid on Sunday.
In an exceptional move, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unveiled a report in Dubai on Sunday, which highlighted a need for an additional $15 billion to meet the growing humanitarian needs of victims in conflict zones around the world.
The report, entitled "Too important to fail - addressing the humanitarian financial gap", noted that the $25 billion currently spent on providing humanitarian aid to an estimated 125 million people globally, is insufficient to meet the rapidly increasing numbers of people in need.
Ban hails the UAE's generosityHis Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met on the sidelines of the launch of a UN report in Dubai.
Shaikh Mohammed and Ban discussed the state of refugees who are in need of special humanitarian aid to sustain them and provide certain minimum necessities of life as they battle dire conditions like cold weather, hunger and homelessness.
Ban hailed the UAE's humanitarian assistance, and cooperation extended by Emirati authorities with UN organisations and programmes.
He also pointed out the role played by the Jebel Ali-based International Humanitarian City that is chaired by Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of Shaikh Mohammed.
Among those who attended the meeting were Princess Haya, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State, and other top officials. - Wam
The report also noted that Muslim majority countries are disproportionately affected by war, with 31 of 33 active conflicts taking place in those countries.
Among those on hand at Sunday's event in the International Humanitarian City (IHC) was His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Chairperson of IHC.
Shaikh Mohammed stressed that the UAE, led by The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has become a global humanitarian leader and one of the world's most generous supporters of international humanitarian causes.
Thanking the United Nations and its secretary-general for launching the report in the UAE, Shaikh Mohammed stressed that the UAE continues to establish itself as a global humanitarian capital.
"This move shows that the international community has confidence in our state, and its international humanitarian efforts in particular," he said.
"Joint international humanitarian action should be boosted to bridge the global shortfall in humanitarian assistance by improving the efficiency of humanitarian work, involving the private sector and establishing good governance in countries in need of assistance," he added.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the report's official unveiling, Ban Ki-moon noted that the world is facing crises of unprecedented proportion that demand urgent funding, particularly in the Middle East.
"This is an age of mega crises. Three out of four UN appeals for humanitarian funding for more than $1 billion are in the Middle East and North Africa," he said.
"Globally, the world is shattering records we would have never wished to break.
"We are seeing all time high numbers for the amounts of money requested through humanitarian appeals.
"That is why, in May last year, I asked a high-level panel of eminent independent experts to urgently seek solutions for the funding gap," he added.
"The report recommendations address three questions I posed at the outset. First, how to raise money and more funding for humanitarian aid. Second, how to make it more predictable. Third, how to improve its efficiency."
UN moots Islamic finance
The final report includes a number of steps to tackle the financial demands of humanitarian operations, including a voluntary tax on football matches or concerts, tapping into Islamic social finance networks, and the implementation of a "solidarity levy" tax modelled on UNITAID, which funds its work treating and preventing malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases with an air ticket levy.
Additionally, the report calls for additional risk financing tools to be implemented in disaster prone countries, the development of international media platforms for more systematic individual giving, and for increased efficiency and transparency in aid organisations.
"We need fresh thinking, and results take tough decisions," the Secretary-General said.
"This report makes an important contribution to the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May. Even before then, we must start translating recommendations into action."
"I'm optimistic that we can move.to results," he added.
"The United Nations stands ready to meet our side of any bargain that improves the global humanitarian response. This will advance our mission of a life of dignity for all the people."
One of the co-chairs on the panel that produced the report, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commission Vice President for Budget and Human Resources, noted that the UAE has a particularly important part to play in implementing the panel's recommendations.
"The United Arab Emirates over the last years has become a lead donor in helping people in tragic circumstances around the world," she said. "We are looking up to you here to be part of the solutions our panel recommends."
Why UN is looking the Islamic way
Realising that outdated aid system will not help raise funds to meet humanitarian needs, a United Nations panel has discussed the possibility of levying micro payments relying on Islamic finance.
By tapping into innovative sources of finance, such as smartphone apps, and wealthy Islamic donors, the panel of nine experts said such a scheme could work, though some members are reported to be "dead against" the idea of taxation.
The authors of the report highlighted the need to coordinate the rising share of government aid donated by richer Gulf states, especially given the overwhelming needs of people affected by conflict in the Arab world.
The panel has already made initial contact with the world football governing body, FIFA, to consider how funds might be generated from a 'global luxury tax'. And the idea of small levies on entertainment purchases or taxi rides, for example on users of the Uber smartphone app, were also discussed.
Speaking on idea of taxation, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commission vice president and co-chair of the panel, added that such schemes already exist.
Another idea explored in the report is the use of Islamic mandatory alms-giving or zakat, which is estimated by the Islamic Development Bank to be worth between $232 billion and $560 billion annually, the report said.
Former World Bank economist, Georgieva, noted that $3-5 billion of the $15 billion funding gap could be met by Islamic finance.
One example cited was the Islamic funding practice known as sukuk, which raised $700 million between 2014 and 2015 for a global immunisation scheme, supported by philanthropists, governments and the World Bank.
Princess Haya bint Al Hussein.
This is an age of mega crises, and three out of four UN appeals for humanitarian funding for morethan $1 billion are in the Middle East and North Africa, said Ban Ki-moon as he launched the UN reporttitled 'Too important to fail - addressing the humanitarian financial gap'.