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UN makes new appeal for humanitarian aid, citing wars in Syria, Iraq, Africa

Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at press conference on launch of UN Global Humanitarian Appeal for 2015, requesting $16.4 dollars from donors, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, December 8, 2014.
Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at press conference on launch of UN Global Humanitarian Appeal for 2015, requesting $16.4 dollars from donors, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, December 8, 2014. McClatchy

The United Nations on Monday called on its members to provide $16.4 billion in 2015 for refugee assistance, 27 percent more than it requested in its initial appeal for 2014.

Much of the need for humanitarian aid next year is fueled by the civil war in Syria, where the U.N. estimates 12.2 million people, more than half the country’s estimated population of 23 million, are in need of assistance.

But 11 other countries also need help, the U.N. said, including the Central African Republic, Iraq and South Sudan, which, when combined with Syria, will eat up 70 percent of the resources set aside to assist people forced from their homes by violence.

“We ask donors for more and more funding for our appeals” every year, said Valerie Amos, the U.N.’s undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief. “But as needs rise, the resources gap is widening.”

Syria remains the most pressing problem, U.N. officials said, calling it “the world’s largest protection crisis.”

The U.N. appeal noted that the growth of Syrians in need of help has been exponential. In June 2012, the U.N. said, the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries numbered 78,000. By the end of that year, the number had reached 525,000. Now they number more than 3.25 million.

But Syria is not alone. Antonio Guterres, the U.N.’s high commissioner for refugees, said that the U.N. estimated in 2012 that 23,000 people were displaced by conflict every day. That number grew to 32,000 in 2013, and while not tabulated yet for 2014, it is expected to have grown again.

“Today’s needs are at unprecedented levels, and without more support there is simply no way to respond to the humanitarian situations we’re seeing in region after region and in conflict after conflict,” Guterres said.

The U.N. estimates that it will need $2.8 billion to help people displaced inside Syria this year, $3.2 billion to assist Syrians in other countries, and $1.26 billion to help countries that have taken Syrians in to meet the added expenses of hundreds of thousands of new residents.

For Iraq, the U.N. is seeking $1.2 billion to assist 5.2 million people in dire straits, including 2.2 million in areas under the control of Islamic State.

The appeal also seeks $612.9 million to assist 2 million people in the war-torn Central African Republic, and another $298 million to assist 461,164 Central African Republic refugees who’ve fled to neighboring countries. The tab for helping 4.1 million people in South Sudan is $1.8 billion, and $783.9 million for refugees who fled to neighboring countries.

Then there’s $405.4 million to help 3.8 million people in Afghanistan and $1 billion to help 4.4 million people in Sudan.

All told, the U.N. said it expects to seek funds for crises in 22 countries worldwide, including a separate appeal that will be made for crises in the Sahel region of Africa.

And the amount is likely to rise. In 2014, the U.N. started by asking for $12.9 billion, then the largest initial request ever, but by the end will have sought $17.9 billion to help over 76 million people in 31 countries.

Donors have so far come through with only 52 percent of that amount, Amos said.

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