UN seeks record $41 billion for aid to hotspots led by Afghanistan, Ethiopia - GulfToday

UN seeks record $41 billion for aid to hotspots led by Afghanistan, Ethiopia


Youths ride on a three-wheeler vehicle along a road in Kandahar on Wednesday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

The United Nations is predicting that a record 274 million people — who together would amount to the world’s fourth most-populous country — will require emergency humanitarian aid next year in countries like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen which face a raft of challenges including war, insecurity, hunger, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations appealed on Thursday for a record $41 billion to provide life-saving assistance next year to 183 million people worldwide caught up in conflict and poverty, led by a tripling of its programme in Afghanistan.


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The report presented a depressing picture of soaring needs brought on by conflicts and worsening instability in places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

An Afghan girl sprays water on a grave as a family prays beside their relative's grave at a cemetery in Kabul. AFP

Famine remains a "terrifying prospect" for 45 million people living in 43 countries, as extreme weather caused by climate change shrinks food supplies, the UN said in the annual appeal, which reflected a 17% rise in annual funding needs.

"The drivers of needs are ones which are familiar to all of us. Tragically, it includes protracted conflicts, political instability, failing economies ... the climate crisis, not a new crisis, but one which urges more attention and of course the COVID-19 pandemic," UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters.

In a report to donors, the world body said: "Without sustained and immediate action, 2022 could be catastrophic."

Fatuma Hussein, 65, sits in her shelter with her family at a camp for the internally displaced in Dessie, Ethiopia. Reuters

Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan are the five major crises requiring the most funding, topped by $4.5 billion sought for Taliban-ruled Afghanistan where "needs are skyrocketing", it said.

In Afghanistan, more than 24 million people require life-saving assistance, a dramatic increase driven by political tumult, repeated economic shocks, and severe food insecurity caused by the worst drought in 27 years.

"We are in the business in the UN of trying to urgently establish with support from the World Bank as well as the UN system, a currency swap initiative which will allow liquidity to go into the economy," Griffiths said.

The report presents a depressing picture of soaring needs in places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

"The absence of cash in Afghanistan is a major impediment to any delivery of services," he said. "I am hoping that we get it up and running before the end of this month."

Billions of dollars were also requested to help the many millions of people impacted by the drawn-out conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

And the appeal highlighted swelling needs in Ethiopia, where thousands have died and millions have been displaced since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into the northern Tigray region more than a year ago.

It estimated that 26 million people there need humanitarian aid, including 400,000 people on the brink of famine.



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