UN issues 2014 appeal to tackle global humanitarian crisis
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"2013 was a real test of the global humanitarian system, and there is no indication that 2014 will be any different,"
Valerie Amos warned Thursday that millions at the beginning of 2014 were facing severe hardship either as internally displaced people or as refugees.
"2013 was a real test of the global humanitarian system, and there is no indication that 2014 will be any different," Amos told reporters in New York.
She said the almost three-year conflict in Syria as well as a recent typhoon in the Philippines had left millions in dire need of support. She added that the recent upsurge in fighting in South Sudan and the Central African Republic had further stretched the organization's ability to provide assistance throughout the next year.
"It is clear that the United Nations and its partners will be needed more than ever," Amos said, calling on international donors to provide additional support throughout 2014 to assist those affected.
"The world's collective response capacity and resources are being stretched to the limit," she added.
In the Philippines alone some 14 million people continue to rely on aid for survival in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit in November.
In Syria meanwhile an estimated 100,000 people have been killed since fighting against President Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March 2011. Millions more are in urgent need of food, shelter and heath care, Amos said, with some 6.5 million people displaced and more than 2.3 million left seeking refuge in neighboring countries.
"We continue to stress the need for a political solution to the crisis. Every day that passes leads to further deterioration of the situation," she told reporters adding that the funding need is "unprecedented."
Late last month, the UN launched its largest ever funding appeal, calling on donor countries to provide 12.9 billion dollars (9.36 billion euros) over the next year to allow aid agencies to reach 52 million people in need in 17 countries. Half of that total figure is destined for Syria.
Amos noted however that South Sudan had also been added to the list following reports of gross human rights allegations. Ethnic violence between government forces and supporters of fugitive former Vice President Riek Machar erupted over two weeks ago.
She said aid agencies needed to assist an estimated 194,000 people driven from their homes and more than 57,000 seeking protection in UN missions.
"Aid organizations need access to affected communities to provide shelter, health care and clean water. People's lives depend on this," she said.
Violence has also spread in the Central African Republic where Amos said 800,000 people were displaced, including 500,000 who are facing starvation in 2014.
Amos warned that aid workers were also struggling to cope with widespread food insecurity, with more than 6.3 million people globally without steady access to food. She listed Mali and Somalia - where political instability and insecurity has left 3.2 million people in need of assistance - as particular causes for concern.
Other countries cited included Afghanistan, Myanmar, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.