U.N.: $4.8B needed to address humanitarian crises

Countries such as Zimbabwe are facing significant humanitarian problems.
The world may be facing a deep recession but the United Nations says it needs a record $4.8 billion more in humanitarian aid for 2009 because several crisis situations "deteriorated significantly" in the first half of the year.

U.N. agencies will need $1.5 billion more than projected for a total of $9.8 billion in 2009, said John Holmes, the U.N.’s humanitarian chief. The extra money is needed after violence and food insecurity worsened living conditions for millions of people in the first half of the year, Holmes said. “It is clear that the global recession puts pressure on the aid budgets of all donor governments, but of course it puts immeasurably more pressure on crises-stricken people in poor countries,” said Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “If just a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars recently committed by governments to private financial institutions were allocated to humanitarian action, these appeals could already be fully funded, and those in need could be getting the best available protection and assistance, on time,” Holmes said Tuesday at a mid-year review conference in Geneva, according to a U.N. statement.

Don’t Miss
U.N. moves to help thousands displaced by Benin floods

Monsoon season compounds refugees’ troubles

Some of the crises mentioned in the mid-year review were: — Kenya, where funding requirements have risen by $187 million because of acute food insecurity and an influx of refugees from neighboring Somalia. — The Palestinian territories need their aid increased by $341 million as a result of the military operation in Gaza in early 2009 and continuing curbs on basic commodities entering the area. — Zimbabwe’s needs have gone up by $169 million. — Pakistan’s need soared from $55 million to $542 million because military operations led to the displacement of two million people. — Sri Lanka’s requirements rose by $114 million as the war displaced 285,000 people. — Iraq needs $103 million more in anticipation of the return and resettlement of displaced people.