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ONE DATA Report 2016: Global instability will rise as refugee crisis puts pressure on foreign aid budgets


Governments must stop fatal trade-off between long-term development aid and the refugee crisis

WASHINGTON: Governments are failing to meet the unprecedented scale of humanitarian challenges because aid budgets in many countries are being stretched to cover the global refugee crisis, warns anti-poverty group The ONE Campaign in its report published today, The 2016 DATA Report: A Bolder Response for a Changing World.

As the international community prepares to discuss the breadth of humanitarian issues facing the world at high-level summits in New York this week, ONE’s DATA Report analyzes the impact of current crises on aid budgets. Of particular concern are “in-donor refugee costs,” whereby governments support refugees in their own countries, sometimes using aid funds redirected away from their intended international poverty-fighting purpose.

The practice of counting in-donor refugee costs as part of aid risks causing deadly trade-offs between long-term development and short-term humanitarian priorities. This is putting lives at risk and heightening global insecurity worldwide. Combined, $13.9 billion (2014 prices) of reported Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been spent within donor countries in 2015 rather than on the fight against extreme poverty in developing countries, our report found.

According to the United Nations(1), in 2015 the number of people forced to leave their homes rose to a record high of 65.3 million ­– 21.3 million of them refugees. Of the 16.1 million refugees for whom the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is responsible, 86% live in developing countries, many of which are already dealing with an inadequate provision of basic services. Despite this, the U.N. has so far received only one-third of the funding needed in 2016 to attend to humanitarian crises.

These challenges arose just as the world focused its energies and resources on ending extreme poverty by 2030 through the new Sustainable Development Goals, and there is a limited window to tackle some of the biggest issues, including the fight against HIV/AIDS. Tremendous progress has been made against this killer disease – but the world risks a resurgence of a more virulent form if investment if not stepped up soon.

The DATA Report also details how record levels of funding pledged to address multiple humanitarian challenges have become broken promises by many governments. This, cautions ONE’s report, is an area of deep concern because it means the global community cannot fulfil its commitments to help the 900 million trapped in extreme poverty – the very conditions that fuel instability, disease, conflict and displacement.

Eloise Todd, Global Policy Director of The ONE Campaign, said:

“The world is experiencing record levels of crises, yet as our 2016 DATA Report highlights, some countries are spending money intended for those living in extreme poverty within their own borders. Refugees should absolutely get the support they need, but with domestic funds, not by cutting into lifesaving development funds.

“Disasters, conflicts and diseases that are caused or perpetuated by extreme poverty will not be defeated by diverting development funds to spend at home. We need to raise enough funds to meet the great humanitarian demands that threaten our collective stability and prosperity. This means committing to multi-year funding, coordinating better with others, and tracking progress more effectively. ”

The 2016 DATA Report calls for governments to:

  • Urgently increase funding for both long-term development and humanitarian needs in developing countries, particularly those supporting refugees and fighting extreme poverty.
  • Immediately stop using development assistance to fund in-donor refugee costs and find money from domestic sources instead, and honor the poverty-reducing principles around development spending.
  • Move towards multi-year planning and funding to ensure consistency in humanitarian responses, and increase transparency so that pledges can be tracked and governments held to account.

About the DATA Report

UNHCR data – Global Trends: Forced Displacement http://www.unhcr.org/576408cd7.pdf