Middle East countries push total international humanitarian assistance to a record US$28 billion

Today Development Initiatives published their Global Humanitarian Assistance report, which finds that Gulf donors have significantly increased their contributions of international humanitarian assistance, contributing to a record total of US$28 billion given last year. Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar collectively gave 11 per cent of the global total in 2015 – compared to 3 per cent in 2011.

The UAE was the world’s seventh largest donor last year, contributing US$1.1 billion – a substantial increase (193 per cent) from the year before. When contributions are taken as a percentage of gross national income, Kuwait is the second largest donor (0.33 per cent GNI), while the UAE is the third largest (0.25 per cent GNI), behind only Turkey. Kuwait has increased its contributions by a significant 86 per cent from the year before. Saudi Arabia saw a decrease in contributions, but it is still the twelfth largest donor globally. These contributions have been mainly driven in response to crises in the Middle East.

Four of the five largest recipients of international humanitarian assistance given across all donors globally are Middle Eastern countries, with Syria receiving the most ($US2 billion), while Iraq and Palestine received US$1.2 billion, and Jordan US$ 0.9 billion.

Harpinder Collacott, Executive Director at Development Initiatives, said “In the face of such human suffering, Gulf donors are playing an increasingly important role to help with the burgeoning scale and protracted nature of crises in the region. Continuing to increase transparency around the resources going to these crises is essential to ensure aid is targeted effectively at those most in need. Transparent, accessible and timely information will improve the effectiveness of aid, and all actors must now step up and meet this challenge.”

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Contact: Emma Cooke, Communications Officer at Development Initiatives

E: Emma.Cooke@devinit.org T: +44(0)1179 272505


Notes to Editors:

  • Data graphics are available
  • Interviews can be arranged with Charlotte Lattimer, Senior Policy & Engagment Adviser, and Sophia Swithern, Head of Research & Analysis


Key findings include:

  • When donations were considered as a percentage of gross national income, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Sweden were the four donors that provided the most in 2015.
  • In 2014 Syria was the largest recipient of humanitarian assistance at US$2 billion followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.
  • In 2015 the US was the largest donor of international humanitarian assistance at US$6.4 billion, followed by Turkey (where refugee hosting costs are included), the UK, EU institutions, Germany, Sweden and the UAE.
  • Shortfalls in funding to UN-coordinated appeals grew to 45%, with large disparities in funding between crises – for example, Iraq received 74% of funding requested while Gambia had only 5% of requirements met.
  • At least 76% of people living in extreme poverty – around 677 million people – are estimated to live in countries that are either politically fragile, environmentally vulnerable or both. However, the real number is likely to be much higher, since it is often those most at risk who are missing from poverty data.
  • The number of people displaced by violence and persecution globally is now a record 65.3 million, generating severe suffering and humanitarian need.
  • People affected by natural disasters over the last decade have predominantly been in Middle Income Countries. However in 2015, the number of people affected in Low Income Countries significantly increased, reaching 43 million – 48% of the total – placing further strain on already poor and vulnerable populations.


About Development Initiatives

Development Initiatives (DI) is an independent international development organisation that focuses on the role of data in driving poverty eradication and sustainable development. DI’s work on global humanitarian assistance provides objective, independent, rigorous data and analysis on humanitarian financing and related aid flows.