UN makes record $22.2bn aid appeal for 2017

‘Not in living memory have so many people needed our support,’ says UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien

The United Nations on Monday launched its biggest appeal for humanitarian funding, asking for $22.2bn in 2017 to reach almost 93 million people affected by conflict, displacement and natural disasters.

Long-term conflicts in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria are among the greatest drivers of humanitarian need, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, with more than half the money earmarked for use in those countries.

But worsening crises in nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and elsewhere have also contributed to stretching global aid resources to breaking point.

“The scale of humanitarian crises today is greater than at any time since the United Nations was founded. Not in living memory have so many people needed our support,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said in a statement.

"The gap between what has to be done to save more people today and what humanitarians are financed to do is growing ever wider"The scale of funding required by the UN has grown year-on-year, with the target rising almost three-fold from $7.9bn in 2011. But donor countries have consistently failed to raise the money required, resulting in a shortfall of billions of dollars.

In 2016, the global agency sought $22.1bn to aid people in 40 countries; at the time, its largest to date. The appeal was only 52 percent funded, as of Nov 30. Emergency flash appeals for natural disasters in Ecuador, Fiji and Haiti attained less than half of their $250m targets. 

 “With persistently escalating humanitarian needs, the gap between what has to be done to save and protect more people today and what humanitarians are financed to do is growing ever wider,” O’Brien said.

In Syria, where civilians bear the brunt of the six-year conflict, 13.5 million people will require aid in 2017, including nearly 5 million in besieged or hard-to-reach areas, according to the UN.

In Nigeria, violence and the threat of famine-like conditions will see 8.5 million people in need of aid in 2017, at a cost of $1.1bn – a 118 per cent rise on 2016.

The spiraling humanitarian situation in Iraq – the result of the ongoing military campaign against Daesh – has seen the number of people in need of assistance rise to 11 million.

“Our collective plans to meet people’s needs are ready. They are effective and efficient investments - the best way to help those who need help now,” OCHA head O’Brien said.