Regime Change for Humanitarian Aid – By Michael Barnett and Peter Walker July/August 2015 Issue

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The global humanitarian system, already under considerable strain, will soon be tested as never before. In 2013, the gap between the funds available for humanitarian aid and estimated global needs reached $4.5 billion, leaving at least one-third of the demand unmet. The gap seems certain to widen, as key donors cut their contributions and humanitarian disasters grow more frequent and severe. Complex humanitarian emergencies, such as the war in Syria, have shown just how poorly the world is prepared to respond to human suffering on a large scale, despite considerable practice. The international community’s response to last year’s outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, for example, was slow off the mark and then stumbled, leaving everyone worried about future public health emergencies. Meanwhile, climate change has increased the destructive force of natural disasters, which fuel violence and put tremendous pressure on governments and aid agencies alike. And rapid urbanization, coupled with massive migration to coasts, has amplified the toll of such crises.

Small wonder, then, that the humanitarian community consistently falls short of expectations—both those of outside observers and its own. To some extent, that is due to factors beyond its control. Humanitarians confront problems that offer no easy solutions. They must contend with powerful funders who would rather make feel-good pledges than actually pay up, with donors who expect relief work to serve their own interests above those of local populations, and with disasters that leave first responders as exposed to the dangers they are responding to as the victims themselves. Complex crises of the kind roiling Syria often require aid workers to plead with warlords, rebels, and guerilla groups for the privilege of helping the vulnerable, only to be denied entry or forced at gunpoint to pay a heavy surcharge.

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US mounts new wave of airstrikes – By Rachel Huggins – 08/30/14 10:10 PM EDT

The U.S. military launched a new round of airstrikes and emergency aid drops to help a beleaguered city in Iraq thwart Islamic militants, the Pentagon announced late Saturday night.

The humanitarian aid was flown to the town of Amirli, where thousands of Shiite Turkomen, an ethnic minority within Iraq, have been cut off from food and water for nearly two months by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Aircraft from Australia, France and the United Kingdom joined the U.S. in delivering the aid.

“These military operations were conducted under authorization from the Commander-in-Chief to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to prevent an ISIL attack on the civilians of Amirli,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

“The operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli.”

The aid came at the request of the Iraqi government, Kirby said.

Saturday’s operation came nearly a month after the U.S. launched airstrikes in northern Iraq, where members of the Yazidi religious minority were trapped by ISIS on Mount Sinjar.

Yazidis received several humanitarian drops of food and water as well as military support aimed at protecting them.

The latest mission has widened the U.S. effort to confront ISIS, which has seized territory from Syria and across northern Iraq.

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