One role of development aid is humanitarian assistance to help victims of natural disasters, famine and conflict. Since 2000 the trend has been rising sharply, reaching some 6-7% of total bilateral official development assistance in 2005, or some US$7.1 billion (constant 2005 prices).
Humanitarian aid first rose markedly in response to the Ethiopian famine of 1985. A surge in the early 1990s was due to civil war in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The spike in 1999 reflected man-made and natural disasters: for the victims of the Kosovo war on the one hand and of Hurricane Mitch that struck the Caribbean and Central America in 1998 on the other. The steep upward trend since 2001 reflects humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Iraq, the countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and most recently, assistance for Darfur (Sudan). Multilateral and private humanitarian aid generally follows the same trends as bilateral humanitarian aid, and totals about half the amount. However, precise figures are difficult to compile, reflecting the multiplicity of agencies and programmes involved.Visit www.oecd.org/development
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©OECD Observer No. 263, October 2007