In 2014 nearly $30 billion was spent on humanitarian aid worldwide, compared to $22 billion in 2013. This is for refugees and people in dire need. This is usually because of famine or the victims are refugees in an unstable region and without resources. By the end of 2014 there were nearly 50 million being aided by the UN and the coalition of international aid groups that work with the UN. About 75 percent of this aid is contributed by governments while the rest comes from foundations, corporations and individuals.
The aid goes to over 80 million people, and half of them are refugees. The aid organizations (mainly the UN) actually sought about 50 percent more money than they received. Despite that shortfall donations were up over 20 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 and even more in 2014. Fund raising has become more difficult because the donors are discouraged by the growing corruption and mismanagement in the international relief efforts. This has been very noticeable among the Syria refugees, who make up about a quarter of the worldwide refugee population. There are nearly as many Afghan refugees, some of them displaced since the Russians chased them out in the 1980s. For a long time Pakistan carried the heaviest refugee burden in the world, but since the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011 the worst hit countries (in terms of the refugee load per million locals) has been Lebanon and Jordan.
It’s not just the growing number of refugees but the difficulty in getting refugees to stop being refugees. Decades of monitoring refugees shows that, on average, people spend 17 years as refugees once they are first driven from their homes. The Arab Spring rebellions plus several ongoing nations with serious internal problems led to a record 33.3 million people being forced from their homes in 2013. Over 60 percent of these refugees were in just five countries; Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, Congo and Sudan. That’s 16 percent more refugees than in 2012. The increase is largely driven by the Syrian government strategy of deliberately targeting pro-rebel civilians. The Islamic terrorist campaign against non-Moslems and pro-government Moslems in northern Nigeria is doing the same thing.
The UN is under pressure to do something about the post-World War II tendency to allow displaced people to remain refugees for decades, instead of persuading host countries to just absorb them. Absorption (by the country refugees ended up in) is how refugees were handled for thousands of years, and how Europe and China handled over ten million refugees after World War II. Then again, until quite recently it was also quite common for large numbers of unwanted refugees to simply be killed or left to starve.
The more recent practice of maintaining refugees for decades has led to more terrorism and violence in general. The treatment of the Palestinian refugees is the most vivid example of this policy. The equal number of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries in the late 1950s was absorbed into Israel and Western nations and were never a problem. The Arab nations refused to absorb the Palestinians and insisted they remain refugees, which millions do until the present. This has caused or contributed to several civil wars and terror campaigns and the deaths of thousands of people.
The UN has had a difficult time getting countries, especially those outside the West, to absorb refugees. It’s mainly an economic, cultural and political thing that is at least made tolerable by all those UN refugee camps (paid for by Western nations).