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A year of humanitarian disasters

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86,000 refugees live in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where the majority are families with children.
Photo: Peter Hove Olesen / POLFOTO

On 21 August, Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation Mogens Jensen requests the Finance Committee for authorisation to allocate DKK 250 million for humanitarian aid in 2014. Many will remember 2014 particularly for its countless humanitarian disasters and appeals. Never before has Denmark spent so many funds on humanitarian aid, which amounted to DKK 2.2 billion in 2014.

The record high number of humanitarian emergencies was not caused by natural disasters. In contrast to previous years, 2014 did not offer a tsunami, an earthquake in Haiti or a typhoon in the Philippines. The vast majority of the disasters were man-made, among others the UN categorised ‘humanitarian mega-crises’ in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic.

Added to these are the ‘forgotten crises’ in Yemen, Darfur in Sudan and DR Congo as well as other humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Palestine and Mali.

The number of refugees and internally displaced persons in 2014 reached a record high of 51 million. It is not the dramatic consequences of climate change that force so many people to leave their homes. Although climate change is a contributing – and growing – factor, it is first and foremost war, chaos and conflict that people are fleeing from, with the vast majority to neighbouring countries and astonishingly few to Europe. This again underlines that most are fleeing from something rather than to something.