Aid Agencies Under Severe Pressure

Yesterday I wrote that a sad fact about life is that when things get tough, it’s often those who can least afford more hardship who bear the brunt. I was pointing to this story about how the global economic crisis was exacerbating human rights abuses.

Here’s more on how the dynamic works:

Aid funds are running short for worsening humanitarian emergencies in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa, as political complexities and the global economic crisis dampen the generosity of governments and individual donors.

Agencies in Sri Lanka, which are struggling to meet the basic needs of nearly 300,000 people displaced in the final stage of the country’s civil war, are warning they only have enough money to keep their relief operations going for around another three months….

As of Thursday, funds donated to the U.N.’s $155 million appeal for Sri Lanka stood at $61 million, or 39 percent of the total, with a further $27 million in pledges that have yet to be firmed up.

For the crisis in Pakistan – where a government offensive against Taliban militants has sparked an exodus of some 2.3 million people in the north – aid agencies need around $543 million to provide food, water, shelter and other relief to displaced people sheltering in camps and with host communities.

So far, the appeal is only 16 percent covered. Donors have promised a further $224 million but it remains unclear how and when this money will be allocated.

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) says it has received about a third of the funds its needs to provide food aid to around 1.5 million people in Pakistan, but desperately requires more.

“We have food and we have (financial) commitments, but we need cash to move the food,” said Nancy Roman, WFP’s director of public policy and communications. “In terms of lead times, you can’t buy food with a commitment.”