Top donor countries failing ordinary Syrians affected by the conflict with Syria appeals falling short by US$2.7bn

Published: 18th September 2013

New analysis shows France, Qatar, Russia are all giving less than half of their fair share

Beirut: Research carried out by international aid agency Oxfam reveals that many donor countries are failing to provide their share of the urgently-needed funding for the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis.

While the need for a political solution to the crisis is as urgent as ever, Oxfam says donors including France, Qatar and Russia, must also prioritise funding the UN’s $5 billion appeals.

The research, released in advance of next week’s high-level meetings of donor countries and others in New York including on Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th, calculates the amount of aid that should be given according to a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) and its overall wealth.

According to Oxfam’s analysis, several countries such as Qatar, Russia, United Arab Emirates and France, who have been influential in shaping the international response to the conflict, are not funding their share of humanitarian aid.

Donors not delivering

Colette Fearon, Head of Oxfam Syria program, said: “Too many donor countries are not delivering the level of funds that is expected of them. While economic times are tough, we are facing the largest man-made humanitarian disaster in two decades and we have to seriously address it. The scale of this crisis is unprecedented and some countries must start to show their concerns to the crisis in Syria by putting their hands in their pockets.”

“Countries such as France and Russia are failing to provide the humanitarian support that is desperately needed. Donors must make good on their pledges and ensure that the money is delivered as soon as possible. This is not the time for empty promises. The situation demands committed funds in order to save lives.”

Qatar and Russia have both committed just three per cent of what would be considered their fair share for the humanitarian effort, while France is struggling to reach half of its fair share (47 per cent). 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), along with other bilateral contributions confirmed by donors.

A third of all countries who are members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic and Development (OECD), whose members account for some of the richest countries in the world, have given less than half of what would be expected, given the size of their economies.  

Japan, for example, has contributed just 17 per cent of its fair share; and South Korea a meager two per cent. The United States is currently the largest donor to the UN appeals, giving 63 per cent of its fair share, but must do more to help those affected by the Syrian conflict.

Every dollar counts

Oxfam is also calling on all donor contributions to be registered with the Financial Tracking Service, to maximize aid efficiency and accountability.

Colette Fearon said: “When funding is so tight every aid dollar counts. We’re seeing people go without food, shelter and water on a daily basis.  By knowing who is providing what assistance and where, we can help as many people as possible.”

Funding gaps are already affecting the ability of organizations to respond to humanitarian needs and forcing them to make difficult decisions about how to use limited aid money.

Oxfam’s analysis also shows which countries have given generously. Those who have exceeded their fair share include:

  • Denmark (230 per cent),
  • Kuwait (461 per cent),
  • Norway (134 per cent),
  • Saudi Arabia (187 per cent),
  • Sweden (132 per cent) and
  • the United Kingdom (154 per cent). 

The aid agency welcomes new pledges of funding at the recent G20 meeting, but says funds need to be released as soon as possible to provide desperately needed aid.

In June, the UN launched a $5 billion appeal for Syria, the largest-ever in its history, but this remains just 44 per cent funded.  Other international appeals are also struggling for funds. Oxfam’s own emergency appeal for $48.9 million, its largest-ever, is only 39 per cent funded.

The humanitarian situation continues to worsen, with more than two million people having fled their country and registered as refugees and more than four million more needing urgent assistance inside Syria. 

This is not the time for pledges. The situation demands committed funds in order to save lives.
Colette Fearon
Head of Oxfam's Syria program

Notes to editors

Download Oxfam’s fair share analysis study.

In its assessment estimating total needs, the study analyzed four appeals: from the 2013 UN Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan and Refugee Response Plan 5, IFRC and ICRC.

The study focuses on funds committed, not just pledged. Funding data was drawn from the UN Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and in consultation with donor governments. It includes contributions made to other multilateral channels such as the European Commission’s Humanitarian Office (ECHO); the UN’s Central Emergency Fund (CERF) and bilateral contributions.

A country’s fair share has been estimated as a percentage, based on Gross National Income (GNI). The fair share includes countries in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), as well as non DAC high-income countries and Russia.

Update on Oxfam's "fair shares" research, and New Zealand's contribution to the Syria crisis

On 19 September 2013, Oxfam published research that many donor countries were not giving their fair share of humanitarian aid to Syria.

We calculated New Zealand’s 2013 contribution at around US$100,000 or 1 per cent of its “fair share”, based on its wealth, of US$10m. The New Zealand government has since responded that its contribution to date is actually NZ$5.46m (approximately US$4.2m), made up as follows:

  • $1.25m to UNHCR to assist up to 100,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey and Jordan under the UN Regional Response Plan;
  • $1.5m through the ICRC to assist over a million Syrian people in Lebanon and Syria;
  • $0.25m to UNRWA to assist up to 200,000 Palestinian refugees in Jordan;
  • $0.74m to the Government of Turkey to build three schools for Syrian refugees;
  • $1m through the World Food Programme to help buy food for refugees in Jordan;
  • $0.72m to support New Zealand non-government organisations working to address the urgent humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees.

Oxfam is happy to update these figures and acknowledge New Zealand’s much more substantial contribution to the Syrian crisis response. These new figures put New Zealand as giving 42 per cent of their “fair share” to the UN appeal for Syria (the data may include funding prior to 2013).

The discrepancy in the data arose because New Zealand did not record its contributions properly to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), the most comprehensive database of humanitarian assistance administered by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The FTS requires donors to “self-report”, as a principle of good and transparent donorship. Oxfam double-checked all countries against their FTS records on the day of publication.

New Zealand also says it has made a US$1.6m contribution to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This is true. But the CERF is money mobilised across all emergencies around the world – not just to Syria. We calculated that New Zealand’s proportional contribution to Syria through the CERF was around $100,000.

While Oxfam was clear that its research was based on figures contained in the FTS, we acknowledge that additional efforts could have been made to check the figures with the Government of New Zealand and regret that the press release gave an impression that New Zealand has been the lowest contributor to funding for this crucial humanitarian response.

Contact information

For any further requests, please contact:

In the UK: Ian Bray,; +44 1865 472 289/Zahra Akkerhuys,; +44 1865 472498/+44 7525 901932
In Jordan: Karl Schembri,; +962 790 625 217
In Lebanon: Janna Hamilton; Lebanon: +96176027223
At the UN in New York: Louis Belanger + 1 917 224 0834
In Washington DC: Vanessa Parra +1 (202) 476-0093