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UN launches largest-ever appeal for Syrian aid

13 January 2017


Boxes: Syrians receive UN relief aid in Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damacus

Boxes: Syrians receive UN relief aid in Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damacus

SYRIA will continue to need more humanitarian aid than anywhere in the world in 2017, the UN forecasts, but the need for international aid in countries such as Nigeria and the Yemen is also predicted to rise dramatically.

The UN launched its largest ever funding appeal for global humanitarian crises last month — $22.2 billion for nearly 93 million people — even as it announced that there had been a funding “gap” of more than $10 billion in last year’s appeal.

“The scale of humanitarian crises today is greater than at any time since the United Nations was founded,” the UN’s emergency-relief co-ordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said.

Conflicts in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria are among the greatest drivers of humanitarian needs, driving more people from their homes than at any time since the Second World War, but crises caused by climate change are also adversely affecting millions of people in many parts of Africa.

The agency Tearfund released its own predictions of the greatest areas of need in the world in 2017. It highlighted East and Southern Africa, including drought and hunger in the Horn of Africa; the ongoing conflict in South Sudan; conflict in central and western Africa, where Boko Haram militants continue to attack; and ongoing conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

The charity also highlighted smaller-scale conflicts and natural disasters in Asia, and countries such as Haiti, which is still affected by Hurricane Matthew (News, 7 October 2016).

The UN predicted that Syria would need $3.4 billion in aid this year: a six-per-cent increase on last year. More than half of the country’s population have been forced from their homes, some of them multiple times.

Aid needs for Nigeria focus on the north-east of the country, where attacks by Boko Haram have caused 5.1 million people to face food insecurity: 120,000 are facing “famine-like” conditions, the UN forecast says. It says that more than $1 billion in aid is needed for the country — a rise of nearly 120 per cent on last year’s figure.

Ongoing armed conflict in the Yemen this year means that nearly 19 million people are in need of urgent aid, and, in South Sudan, continuing violence has allowed the humanitarian crisis to deepen and spread. The UN assessment says: “In 2017, food security in South Sudan is likely to deteriorate to unprecedented levels, with thousands of people at risk of famine in conflict-affected areas where markets have failed.

“A weakened population is increasingly susceptible to malaria, cholera, measles and kala-azar. The children of the world’s youngest nation are exposed to immense risk.”

Other countries that the UN assesses as needing a sharp rise in aid funding include Ethiopia and Djibouti — where El Niño conditions have caused drought and food insecurity — and Haiti and Afghanistan.

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