High and mighty: U.S. aid for typhoon victims in the Philippines, November 2013.
ERIK DE CASTRO / REUTERS

The global humanitarian system, already under considerable strain, will soon be tested as never before. In 2013, the gap between the funds available for humanitarian aid and estimated global needs reached $4.5 billion, leaving at least one-third of the demand unmet. The gap seems certain to widen, as key donors cut their contributions and humanitarian disasters grow more frequent and severe. Complex humanitarian emergencies, such as the war in Syria, have shown just how poorly the world is prepared to respond to human suffering on a large scale, despite considerable practice. The international community’s response to last year’s outbreak of

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