UN describes humanitarian needs as ‘shockingly high’ as it makes record-breaking appeal for aid

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The United Nations and partners on Thursday appealed for a record $51.5 billion US in aid money for 2023, with tens of millions of additional people expected to need assistance, testing the humanitarian response system “to its limits.”

The appeal represents a 25 per cent increase on 2022 and is more than five times the amount sought a decade ago.

The UN Global Humanitarian Overview estimates that an extra 65 million people will need help next year, bringing the total to 339 million in 68 countries.

That represents more than four per cent of the people on the planet or about the population of the United States.

“Humanitarian needs are shockingly high, as this year’s extreme events are spilling into 2023,” said UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Martin Griffiths, citing the war in Ukraine and drought in the Horn of Africa.

“For people on the brink, this appeal is a lifeline.”                                                                   

The humanitarian response system is being tested to its limits– Martin Griffiths, UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator

More than 100 million people have been driven from their homes as conflict and climate change fuel a displacement crisis.

Nine months of war between Russia and Ukraine have disrupted food exports and around 45 million people in 37 countries are currently facing starvation, the report said.

10 countries asking more than $1B each

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major setbacks in child vaccination programs and thwarted efforts to end extreme poverty, fuelling other diseases such as cholera, Griffiths said at the launch on Thursday.

For the first time ever, 10 countries have individual appeals of more than $1 billion US — Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

But donor funding is already under strain with the multiple crises, forcing aid workers to make tough decisions on priorities.

The United Nations faces the biggest funding gap ever, with its unmet funding at 53 per cent in 2022, based on data through to mid-November.

“The humanitarian response system is being tested to its limits,” Griffiths said.

WATCH | A convergence of crises leading to desperate needs worldwide: 

UN says 339 million people will need emergency relief in 2023

The United Nations is asking for a record $51.5 billion US for ‘shockingly high’ humanitarian aid needs, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and a global food shortage.

Unlike in other parts of the UN where fees depend on countries’ economic size, humanitarian funding is voluntary and relies overwhelmingly on Western donations.

In June, the Canadian government announced it would provide $250 million in funding for 2022 and 2023 to help address the global food security crisis. In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $1.21 billion in new funding to combat HIV and other major illnesses, as well as additional funding for climate and other areas of global need. 

The United States is by far the biggest donor, giving over $14 billion US so far this year, followed by Germany and the European Commission while other major economies like China and India have given less than $10 million US each.

In remarks at the same UN event, European Union ambassador Thomas Wagner said it was imperative to expand and diversify the donor base which he described as “disturbingly narrow.”

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