UN: $12.9 billion aid needed in 2014

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2013 at 9:05 am •  Published: December 16, 2013

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations said Monday it will need nearly $13 billion in aid in 2014 to reach at least 52 million people in 17 countries, including the millions of Syrians who have been displaced by their civil war.

"This is the largest amount we've ever had to request at the start of the year," said Valerie Amos, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief. "The complexity and scale of what we are doing is rising all the time."

The aid is to be provided by 500 organizations, including the main U.N. agencies for food, refugees and children.

About half of the requested $12.9 billion in aid — some $6.5 billion — would go toward delivering food, shelter and health care in Syria and neighboring countries affected by the war.

"This is the largest ever appeal for a single crisis," Amos said.

In Syria, there are 2.5 million people in "hard to reach communities" because of fighting and security concerns, she said.

The nearly 3-year-old conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions, and even if it ends tomorrow the humanitarian aid would still need to continue, Amos said.

"We're facing a terrifying situation here where, by the end of 2014, substantially more of the population of Syria could be displaced or in need of humanitarian help than not," said the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

"This goes beyond anything we have seen in many, many years, and makes the need for a political solution all the much greater," he said.

A year ago, the U.N.'s humanitarian request looking ahead to 2013 was for $8.5 billion, but Syria's civil war forced the world body to revise that assessment upward to $13.6 billion. U.N. and other aid officials said Monday that their 2013 request will be only 60 percent funded.

Such funding gaps will leave many people hungry, lacking shelter and unprotected from violence, they said.

"When looking ahead to the 2014 plans for humanitarian response and the funds that are required, the NGO community is very concerned that this year's appeals are still vastly underfunded and that leaves gaps in meeting immediate humanitarian needs and also slows down the recovery process for millions of civilians, leaving an unbearable scar for years to come," said Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of Save the Children International.

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