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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

UN appeals for record $22.5bn in global aid for 2018

War-ravaged Syria and Yemen account almost half of the funds requested

Syrian children hold messages pleading for help as members of an aid convoy enter a building during a humanitarian delivery in Al Nashabia town in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus on November 28, 2017. The Syrian conflict accounts for more than a third of the UN's projection for humanitarian assistance required in 2018. Amer Almohibany / AFP
Syrian children hold messages pleading for help as members of an aid convoy enter a building during a humanitarian delivery in Al Nashabia town in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus on November 28, 2017. The Syrian conflict accounts for more than a third of the UN's projection for humanitarian assistance required in 2018. Amer Almohibany / AFP

The United Nations appealed on Friday for a record US$22.5 billion (Dh82.6bn) to provide aid in 2018 to soaring numbers of people affected by conflict and disasters around the world.

The global appeal by UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations aims to raise funds to help about 91 million most vulnerable of the nearly 136 million people expected to need aid across 26 countries next year.

The number of people in need of international assistance worldwide has risen more than five per cent from last year's estimate.

"More people than ever before will need our assistance," UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement launching the appeal.

Drought, floods and other weather-related catastrophes are expected to continue adding to the number of people in need of aid.

But Mr Lowcock stressed that "conflict, in particular protracted crises, will continue to be the main driver of need in 2018".

The war in Syria alone accounts for $7.66bn of the requested amount of funds next year.

According to the appeal, $3.5bn is needed to provide humanitarian assistance inside the country, where more than 340,000 people have been killed and millions driven from their homes since March 2011.

Another $4.16bn is needed to address the needs of the 5.3 million Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries, as well as of their overburdened host communities, the appeal said.

War-torn Yemen, which is facing the world's most dire humanitarian crisis, comes next on the list, with Friday's appeal urging donors to cough up $2.5bn to provide desperately needed assistance to the most vulnerable people in the country.

That amount would cover the needs of only 10.8 million Yemenis - fewer than half of the 22.2 million in need of aid, the UN said.

Other countries requiring substantial funds include South Sudan, which has been wracked by civil war since 2013, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria.

On a more positive note, the UN said that humanitarian needs in a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Ukraine had declined somewhat, although they still remained high.

At the same time however, "substantial increases in need are projected" in places like Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Libya, it warned.

The amount appealed for on Friday marks a one per cent hike over the $22.2bn requested last December for 2017.

But there is little chance all the requested cash will materialise.

Last year, donors covered just over half of the appeal, dishing out only $13bn for aid around the world.