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UN Asks Donors to Give More as Rising Food, Fuel Prices Threaten Aid Efforts


The United Nations is asking donors for an additional $3.6 billion to fund its humanitarian work because of rising food and fuel prices, and several sudden natural disasters. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

So far, 2008 has seen drought, floods, Cyclone Nargis, post-election crises and war. Combine this with rising food and fuel prices and the United Nations says at mid-year it needs more money to help the world's most vulnerable people.

U.N. Humanitarian Chief John Holmes said Wednesday that the world body is asking for an additional $3.6 billion for 2008, bringing its appeal so far to $6.5 billion. Donors have met just under half that amount so far.

"That means the donors will need to dig deep into their pockets to try to find that money," said John Holmes. "It means also, that we will need to continue to intensify the search for new donors both from governments and perhaps from other sources like the private sector if we are going to meet these increasing needs."

The appeal covers crises in 10 countries plus West Africa. The biggest increases are for Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma. West Africa also had one of the biggest increases, up from $104 million in January to $416 million now.

"We have been giving you numbers and policy issues, but what we are actually talking about is people in real life who are suffering extreme circumstances - starvation, the effects of conflict - these are people in desperate need of help," said Holmes. "That is what we are talking about, not just billions of dollars for the sake of it."

Despite economic problems around the world, Holmes said he hopes both old and new donors will come forward to help the growing numbers of people in need.