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NZ ranked third for humanitarian response

New Zealand is among the top three countries in the world for its humanitarian response to international crises, according to an aid watchdog's report.

In the Humanitarian Response Index 2010, published by DARA, New Zealand is placed just behind Denmark and Ireland, ahead of Norway, Sweden and the European Commission.

The report, which was launched this week during the European Development Days in Brussels, ranks 23 leading governments' performance in 14 crises that received over 60 per cent of global humanitarian funding in 2009.

The United Kingdom placed eighth, Australia is 13th and the United States is 19th.

Last year New Zealand's Official Development Assistance (ODA) represented 0.29 per cent of its Gross National Income (GNI), a slight decrease from the previous year and below the United Nations' target of 0.7 per cent. Humanitarian aid comprised 12.17 per cent of New Zealand's ODA.

New Zealand gives $7 of humanitarian assistance for every resident, or 0.027 per cent of the country's GNI.

The report said New Zealand was "highly supportive of humanitarian accountability initiatives", giving the example of the country's funding of an education project in the occupied Palestinian territories.

New Zealand was also commended for providing much of its humanitarian aid without restrictions or "earmarking", and was considered a good donor to facilitate safe humanitarian access.

However, DARA recommended that New Zealand increase its support of UN and Red Cross/Red Crescent appeals as well as those run by non-government organisations - an area where it found New Zealand's support to be below average.

The report said a "significant number" of humanitarian organisations believed the donor governments that funded them were "not keeping humanitarian assistance independent of political, economic or military objectives".

"Political agendas have impeded the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance to millions of people in need," said Ross Mountain, the director general of DARA.

"Our field research indicates that people working in humanitarian agencies, including government officials working in humanitarian aid, are fully committed to preserving principled approaches to humanitarian assistance: the problem begins when other parts of governments seek to subordinate assistance to other aims."
Founded in 2003, DARA describes itself as an independent organisation "committed to improving the quality and effectiveness of aid for vulnerable populations suffering from conflict, disasters and climate change". (by Paul Harper, NZ Herald)


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