Budget fails to respond to unprecedented humanitarian crises

While Act for Peace welcomes the Australian Government’s new funding for climate initiatives in the Pacific in the 2024-25 Federal Budget, handed down by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on May 14, the lack of new funds to respond to the world’s unprecedented humanitarian crises is disappointing. 

The government’s commitment to improving Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) is now at $4.961 billion, an increase of $193 million, but remains static at 0.19% of Gross National Income (GNI). 

The new budget neglected to increase the Humanitarian Emergency Fund, at a time where the Asia-Pacific region is failing to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, when Australia should be scaling up its aid targets.  

Act for Peace CEO, former refugee Elijah Buol OAM, believes we cannot afford to remain static if we are serious about addressing the unprecedented displacement issues our world is facing. 

“Increasing foreign aid is an essential and wise investment for Australia, because it helps create security and safety for vulnerable populations and builds their resilience so they can overcome crises like conflict and disaster,” Elijah says. 

According to the Australian Aid Tracker, Australia ranked just 26 out of 31 OECD countries when it comes to the generosity of our humanitarian aid in 2023. As a comparison, while we dedicate 19 cents in every $100 to foreign aid, the United Kingdom commits 58 cents, and Canada 38 cents. 

The global displacement crisis continues to expand at an alarming rate, with UNHCR estimating that at the end of September 2023, more than 114 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and human rights violations alone. 

In addition, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) there were 8.7 million people internally displaced by disasters by the end of 2022. 

Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) CEO, Marc Purcell, says if we don’t increase our aid commitment, progress will be reversed. 

“This budget provided the Government with an opportunity to show real humanitarian leadership in responding to human suffering across the world,” he says. “This budget barely touches the surface… The failure to lift the Humanitarian Emergency Fund is disappointing. We are going backwards on eradicating extreme poverty.” 

Elijah says Act for Peace will continue to advocate for increases in aid budget alongside our coalition partners ACFID and Micah. 

“It’s in our best interest to address and prevent displacement, because not only does it create a safe place to belong for people who need it most, but it will also help prevent future catastrophes due to the impact of climate change,” Elijah says.   

“As we continue to see an increase in climate-related displacement, we recognise Australia has a responsibility to provide support for those who are most vulnerable to climate-related shocks and ongoing and emerging conflict, especially for our neighbours in the Pacific.” 

Act for Peace is working with local partners and their communities in 20 countries including Fiji, the Philippines, Tonga and Vanuatu in the Pacific, who are on the frontline of the climate crisis. Their work centres on developing stronger disaster preparedness and response capabilities and climate-adaptation initiatives.  

Act for Peace’s Head of Partnerships and Programs, Geoff Robinson says Pacific communities are being hit with repeated disasters with increased frequency – from devastating cyclones, tidal surges and sea-water inundation.  

“Investing in the anticipation of, and adaptation to disasters, is helping communities grow resilience and preventing the likelihood of climate-driven displacement.   

“Fostering partnerships with organisations is key to locally led and sustainable displacement solutions. 

“We continue to advocate for solutions where local communities are leading when it comes to reducing the impact of climate-related displacement,” he says. 

A refugee camp in Jordan. Joel Pratley/Act for Peace

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