Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, the global community has made a concentrated effort toward ending world poverty. Very often, Americans hear of the term “humanitarian aid” without a transparent knowledge of what that aid does or who and where it goes to. Below are nine interesting facts about humanitarian aid, including some of the origins of organized aid, countries and organizations that provide aid and the countries that benefit from humanitarian aid provisions.
- One of the less well-known facts about humanitarian aid is that it is thought to have originated toward the tail end of the nineteenth century. The first global aid relief effort came about during the Great Northern Chinese Famine of 1876-79 that killed nearly 10 million of China’s rural population. British missionary Timothy Richard called attention to the famine and raised what is valued at $7-10 million today in an organized relief effort to end the famine.
- Modern western imagery of humanitarian aid came about during the 1983-1985 Ethiopian famine. BBC reporting from Michael Buerk showcased imagery of the “Biblical famine” that shocked the world.
- The publicity surrounding the Ethiopian famine led to a worldwide western effort to raise money and bring an end to the plight. Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof organized the Live Aid event that raised over €30 million and set the precedent for humanitarian aid fundraising events across the globe.
- Every year, the amount of humanitarian aid contributed by developed countries to places where aid is needed has increased. In 2017, the global community contributed $27.3 billion of foreign aid toward humanitarian relief efforts.
- According to Development Initiative, approximately 164 million individuals are in direct need of humanitarian aid. Those in the direst need of relief include the 65.6 million individuals displaced from their home countries and individuals that live in the world’s most dangerous countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Another interesting fact about humanitarian aid is that the largest humanitarian aid organization fighting world hunger is the World Food Programme (WFP). Each year, the WFP reaches about 90 million individuals in approximately 80 countries.
- Humanitarian aid is also donated in large quantities toward natural disaster relief. To illustrate, Red Cross relief efforts toward the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti raised approximately $488 million.
- In 2014, United States spent about $2.7 billion of its foreign aid budget on humanitarian aid. This money is mostly used to care for refugees who have been displaced from their home countries.
- One of the more serious facts about humanitarian aid is that relief workers have a tough and dangerous job. In 2017, over 150 employees were attacked while trying to conduct their work. However, many would argue that the risk is worth the lives that these individuals save.
Based on these facts about humanitarian aid, it is clear that global aid is vital to creating a global community of countries that care about one another. The global aid network creates a myriad of positive outcomes in global health, development and politics, truly saving the lives of many.
– Daniel Levy