The humanitarian assistance component of engagement with Asia, which combines several non- monetary indicators alongside raw aid expenditure figures, continues to decline from its 2006 peak, falling by 5.6 per cent in 2012. Meanwhile humanitarian engagement with the ROW in 2012 was virtually unchanged for the second year in a row. Despite these recent changes, humanitarian engagement with Asia continues to dominate Australia’s humanitarian assistance programs.
The pattern of generally falling humanitarian engagement with Asia since 2006 contrasts starkly with the 16-year period from 1990 to 2006, during which time the index fell on only two occasions (in 1994 and 2004). Meanwhile the sharp rise in the index in the late 1990s reflected an increase in assistance during the Asian financial crisis, and the 23 per cent spike in assistance in 2006 related to the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004.
The 5.6 per cent decline in humanitarian engagement with Asia in 2012 was driven by a 23.3 per cent fall in the number of Australian NGO delegates active in Asia, and a 1.4 per cent fall in the number of longer term medical staff and teachers working in Asia. These falls offset a rise of 16.6 per cent in the number of students offered AusAID and defence force scholarships to study in Australia, with an increase in official development assistance to Asia of almost 13 per cent. Peacekeeping activities in Asia were broadly unchanged in 2012.
The marginal rise in humanitarian engagement with the ROW in 2012 reflected a similar pattern to engagement with Asia. There was a 25.5 per cent fall in the number of NGO delegates operating in ROW countries and a more modest 3.6 per cent fall in the number of longer term medical staff and teachers working in the ROW. These falls were more than offset by an increase of 46.6 per cent in the number of students offered AusAID and defence force scholarships to study in Australia, and a 12 per cent rise in official development assistance to the ROW. As with Asia, peacekeeping activities in the ROW were unchanged in 2012.