According to a new index intended to gauge international commitment to humanitarian aid, Sweden is the top donor country. From London, Tendai Maphosa reports for VOA that the first Humanitarian Response Index was launched in the British capital.
The independent nonprofit organization Development Assistance Research Associates compiled the index and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan launched it.
It ranks the 22 donor countries and the European Union on how well they live up to the goals of the declaration of Principles and Good Practices of Humanitarian Donorship. The countries, along with the European Union, signed the declaration in 2003.
The index is the first to rank the humanitarian aid performance of individual countries in the hope of encouraging improved action worldwide.
Development Assistance Research Associates says it evaluates the way in which donor countries contribute to saving lives and maintaining human dignity during crises.
The group says its rankings were put together from a combination of hard data and results of a comprehensive survey conducted in selected humanitarian crisis countries. Donors and representatives of 20 of the 23 countries were also interviewed.
The index says Sweden is a model donor country because of its focus on covering humanitarian needs across the globe. Norway and Denmark are second and third, while the Netherlands came fourth. The United Kingdom is ninth and the United States 16th. Portugal, Italy and Greece are the bottom ranked.
Index Project Director Augusto Lopez-Claros told VOA the index should encourage countries to assess their strengths and weaknesses with a view to improve their humanitarian responses. He said countries lost points for allowing politics to influence whom they should assist.
"This is a very important principle of the good humanitarian donorship initiative it says that humanitarian action should be driven by need, it should not be driven by political, economic, military or other strategic considerations and many of the indicators that we developed actually penalize countries whose funding decisions are swayed by these kinds of considerations, you should fund where the need arises," said Lopez-Claros.
Last year natural hazards affected over 130 million people and caused the deaths of more than 20,000, while the number of internally displaced persons amounted to 24.5 million, Development Assistance Research Associates said.