What’s right and wrong in the world this holiday season? This is a sundry list related to recent interests of mine, mostly related to humanitarian assistance.

  • UN seeks record $13 billion for humanitarian assistance in 2014, half of it for Syria

More than half of Syria’s population of 22 million is now in need of aid, according to United Nations estimates.

  • In 2015, the UN will pursue a new non-binding agreement in Japan on disaster risk reduction nine months before the climate negotiations in Paris
  • Typhoon Haiyan revealed major weaknesses in the Filipino government and military’s capacity to provide self-defense, many deficiencies revealed including major boats moored at port for days after the disaster as well as other problems:

The day before the typhoon struck on November 8, Philippine president Benigno Aquino III sent his ministers of defense and interior to Leyte Island, which was to bear the brunt of the storm. But for crucial hours after the storm, according to reports in multiple national newspapers, neither of the two ministers could communicate with the president’s office because they were wholly reliant on cell phone communications, which had been knocked out by the typhoon.

  • Lisa Friedman points out the incongruity that Pakistan received $900 billion for a coal project last week and $3.8 million this week to combat climate change and tropical deforestation
  • New ODI paper discusses aid agencies efforts to negotiate entry to Somalia with Al Shabaab during the 2011 famine, concludes:

Al-Shabaab has routinely expelled aid agencies, and at the height of its territorial control implemented a system of aid agency regulation, taxation and surveillance. Where agencies are allowed to operate, this is often due to the desire of Al-Shabaab to coopt and materially and politically benefit from the provision of aid and services. Comprehensive dialogue with Al-Shabaab is critical to reducing risk of diversion and improving prospects for long-term access. Structured engagement at all levels has allowed agencies to pursue a consistent approach towards Al-Shabaab and communicate clear messages about what they would accept.