The international humanitarian system is larger than ever in terms of financial and human resources. In 2014 it comprised some 4,480 operational aid organisations with combined humanitarian expenditures of over $25 billion and roughly 450,000 professional humanitarian aid workers in their ranks. And yet it is failing to meet the global demand for humanitarian assistance. The past few years – particularly 2014, with four concurrent major emergencies followed by the Ebola epidemic – laid bare the system’s limits. The political and security impediments to providing relief to civilians trapped in war-ravaged Syria, combined with glaring capacity gaps in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, have overshadowed genuine humanitarian successes such as the response to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines.
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