GENEVA (AP) — After a dismal 2015 of mass refugee flows, war and catastrophe, leading U.N. agencies and their partners announced Monday that they are seeking over $20 billion in funding next year — the largest humanitarian appeal in history.
The United Nations agencies for health, refugees and humanitarian assistance — known as WHO, UNHCR and OCHA — and their partner organizations want to help some 87 million people in 37 countries including Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and Iraq next year — the most vulnerable people among an estimated 125 million in need in total, officials said. The agencies said the funding being sought — $20.1 billion — is five times greater than just a decade ago.
The agencies are already running short: They say they are only half-funded in their 2015 appeals for $19.9 billion and face a total funding gap of $10.2 billion, which is also a record. The funds, mostly from governments, go to medical support, food, shelter, protection and other aid for vulnerable or displaced people.
The appeals are to help cover all sorts of human miseries, such as those caused by war and natural disasters. The agencies noted that worldwide, some 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes in recent years— the highest level in the postwar era.
"Human suffering has reached levels not seen since the Second World War," said Stephen O'Brien, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs. He said natural disasters are expected to worsen next year due to the weather event known as El Nino, which has already led to record droughts in parts of South America and Africa.
But the wars in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen will remain the "greatest drivers of prolonged humanitarian needs" in 2016, the agencies said in a statement.
O'Brien said that the suffering in the world continues to outpace the needed funding, and promised that "generosity" with funds would be used to save lives.