Is it time to re-think financing of humanitarian crises?

OPINION 

As we move into 2018, the number of people being forced from their communities and countries is growing. Rarely have we seen so many families split up, lives destroyed and futures put into question. Humanitarian organizations are being called on more than ever before to deal with the disasters created by political and economic interests that seem to have no respect for human life and dignity. As the humanitarian sector struggles to find the resources to deal with these crises, the time may have come for the international community to explore ways in which those who instigate and perpetrate these human rights violations could be made to pay for the humanitarian response. In January 2018, the international community’s appeals to address humanitarian crises worldwide reached US$23 billion to assist 94 million people in 26 countries. On the basis of current trends, humanitarian assistance costs are predicted to rise to $50 billion per year by 2030. Many of the people and groups responsible for these crimes against humanity have immense wealth banked abroad. In a world of growing bank transparency their accounts could be monitored and, when considered appropriate, frozen and/or used to bank-roll the massive task of providing the shelter, food and water needed to ensure the health and welfare of displaced people. This was done in the case of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait when a UN compensation committee oversaw the use of Saddam Hussein’s wealth to pay for the reconstruction of Kuwait and the compensation of personal losses. There is no reason why this model should not be applied to the many displaced person situations facing the world today.

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