UN seeks $16.4bn to address crises in 2015

Number of people affected by conflict reaches ‘record levels’ for post-World War II era

Aid agencies have assessed that 78 million people are in need of assistance. Above, a displaced boy, who fled from Islamic State violence in Mosul, stands in refugee camp on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Arbil. Photograph:  Azad Lashkari/Reuters

Aid agencies have assessed that 78 million people are in need of assistance. Above, a displaced boy, who fled from Islamic State violence in Mosul, stands in refugee camp on the outskirts of the Kurdish city of Arbil. Photograph: Azad Lashkari/Reuters

 

Struggling to cope with record numbers of victims of conflict, the United Nations appealed Monday for $16.4 billion (€13.3 billion) to finance humanitarian assistance programs in 2015, warning that the gap between needs and available resources is widening.

The appeal, a barometer of the global impact of wars and disasters, calls for 27 per cent more funding in 2015 than the amount requested a year ago for 2014 and is intended to aid more than 57 million people in 22 countries.

The number of people affected by conflict “has reached record levels” for the post-World War II era, Valerie Amos, the UN emergency aid chief, told a news conference in Geneva.

She said that aid agencies had assessed that 78 million people were in need of assistance but that the appeal targeted only the most vulnerable.

Nearly three-quarters of the funds were designated for just four crises: in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and the protracted but little reported conflict in Sudan. Other priorities included the Central African Republic, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen.

The number of people displaced by conflict reached the highest level since World War II at the end of 2013 but is still rising “exponentially,” Antonio Guterres, the UN refugee chief, told the news conference, climbing to 32,000 a day last year from 14,000 a day in 2011. In 2014, he said, the figure would certainly have increased further.

For Syria alone, heading toward a fifth year of civil war, the United Nations is seeking $7.2 billion in 2015, including $2.8 billion for those displaced by fighting inside the country and $4.4 billion for the 3.2 million Syrian refugees sheltering in neighboring countries. The total includes about $1 billion to fund infrastructure and humanitarian projects in countries surrounding Syria that are straining to cope with the influx of refugees.

Ms Amos also served notice that the amount of funding requested from donors in 2015 will rise further. In 2014, supplementary appeals to deal with crises that erupted in Iraq, South Sudan and Ukraine helped to inflate the $7.9 billion requested initially to a total of $17.9 billion. The appeal launched Monday, Ms Amos pointed out, did not include aid that will be required for countries of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

“Every year we ask our donors to do more - and they do. But as crises become more complex and go on longer, the gap between needs and resources grows,” Ms Amos said in a statement. The funding challenge created a stir last week when the World Food Program of the United Nations stopped food aid to more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees after failing to raise the $64 million needed to keep the program going in December.

Ms Amos reported that an emergency appeal launched last week for that particular program had raised about $80 million. “It means we are fine for December but we are not fine for the months going forward,” she said, and without more support would “lurch from month to month.”

In addition to funding, the United Nations and aid agencies will Tuesday try to persuade countries to increase the number of Syrians accepted for resettlement at a ministerial-level conference convened by the UN refugee agency in Geneva.

The United Nations estimates that about one-third of the refugees meet the criteria for resettlement, but since the start of Syria’s crisis only 191,000 Syrians have found asylum overseas.

European Union member countries, mainly Germany and Sweden, accepted around 156,200, and the United States and Canada together accepted around 5,350.

NYT

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