No room for donor fatigue at Syria pledging conference in Kuwait

Published: 15th January 2014

At the Second International Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait today States must give generously and ensure that they help Syrians’ desperately in need of humanitarian assistance, and follow up with action in Geneva.

There is no room for donor fatigue at the Kuwait Conference and states must make strong commitments to fund the humanitarian response to the Syria Crisis, and support neighboring countries hosting refugees. 

New research released today by Oxfam shows which donor countries are meeting their aid obligations to help fund the humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria – and which are badly lagging behind.

Humanitarian aid urgently needed

While a much-needed and lasting political solution is being sought through the Geneva peace talks, Oxfam says donor states must also prioritize funding the UN’s appeals for $6.5 billion, to ensure that Syrians receive the immediate humanitarian assistance they desperately need. Governments pledging funds in Kuwait must also focus on measures that will improve the humanitarian situation and ensuring conditions are created to give peace talks the best possible chance of succeeding.

Who's leading the way

The research shows that some states are more than delivering what would be considered their fair share for the humanitarian effort. Arab states, and in particular countries hosting Syrian refugees, are leading the way with Jordan (12,720 per cent), Lebanon (5,617 per cent), Kuwait (1,444 per cent), Saudi Arabia (324 per cent), and Iraq (450 per cent) topping the league table. 

Denmark (379 per cent), Norway (380 per cent), and the UK (298 per cent) are also more than meeting their obligations. Turkey is exceeding its fair share by 930 per cent.

A critical moment

Gareth Price Jones, who heads up Oxfam’s response inside Syria and is attending the conference in Kuwait, said: “The Kuwait conference comes at a critical moment, the conflict continues to rage and we can expect the humanitarian needs for Syrians to continue to grow this year, possibly beyond. Donor countries cannot rest on their laurels. There is still a long way to go. 

“The UN has launched its largest appeal ever. It did not do this lightly. The scale of the appeal simply reflects the immense scale of the need. If every country gave its fair share then the appeal would be funded. We urge all states not to shrink from their responsibilities and to do their bit.” 

Who's lagging behind

But nearly two thirds of states, some of the richest countries in the world and members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, are giving less than would be expected given the size of their economies. 

The analysis shows that based on contributions reported to the FTS, Russia is falling far short of expectations having committed just five per cent of what would be considered its fair share. Japan is also lagging behind, having committed just 31 per cent. South Korea has pledged just five per cent. 

France (77 per cent) has also been a relatively generous donor but needs to do more to support the revised appeal. The United States (88 per cent), the largest donor to UN appeals, has shown significant leadership but can do more to give its fair share. 

Oxfam’s research calculates the amount of aid that should be given according to a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) and its overall wealth. The organization last calculated the Fair Share analysis in September 2013 when Russia and France were found to be significantly lagging behind. The UN’s appeal for a total of $5bn made last June was 70 per cent funded when it closed at the end of last year.

Hosting the refugees

In addition to funding the UN’s latest appeals, states will also be asked in Kuwait to provide much-needed financial assistance to help neighboring countries’ national response plans. The national response plans address the challenges these countries face as they host millions of refugees. Communities facing enormous strain on their infrastructure and social services require additional resources to ease tensions and improve security conditions. 

Price-Jones added: “Not only are the numbers of people in need staggering but also overheads and raw materials are expensive in the Middle East. Costs mount up and every cent counts. Money is urgently needed to keep funding the basics such as shelter, food and water for refugees and people inside Syria.”

Inclusive peace talks

"Fully funding the humanitarian response is a necessary action for the international community to help crisis affected Syrians, but not sufficient. Many of the governments attending the Kuwait conference will be represented in Geneva - they must support inclusive peace talks, and take actions that both alleviate the humanitarian situation and bolster the chances of a successful resolution of the crisis."

We can expect the humanitarian needs for Syrians to continue to grow this year, possibly beyond. Donor countries cannot rest on their laurels.
Gareth Price Jones
Head of Oxfam's Humanitarian Response inside Syria

Notes to editors

1. 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), where possible bilateral contributions are confirmed with donors. Oxfam takes great care to ensure the information used in the analysis is as accurate as possible but cannot guarantee this. Figures were last checked on Friday January 10. GNI data comes from the World Bank’s 2012 GNI, PPP (current international $).

2. In 2013, reporting through the UN’s financial tracking service shows that 62.5 per cent of funding from the Syria response was channeled through UN agencies, 20.9 per cent through international NGOs and a little over 1 per cent was given as bi-lateral funding to governments. Of the funding provided to NGOs 98.34 per cent of the funding went to international NGOs and only 1.64 per cent to national NGOs.

3. Russia appears in the UN’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) as one of the top 20 donors for the Syria Humanitarian Appeal in 2013. However, the figures in our fair share analysis looks at Russia’s total contribution to the combined Syria and Regional refugee response in 2012 and 2013, as well as ICRC and IFRC appeals and the national appeals for the governments of Jordan and Lebanon. The figures are taken from the most up to date data provided in the FTS. This figure is taken from the UN’s FTS website on 10 January 2014.

Download the Arabic version of this press release.

Contact information

For more information or to arrange interviews with Gareth Price Jones, please contact Vanessa Parra +961 70061797 or +1 202 904 0319 , or @ParraV