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UN Runs Record Funding Shortfall

The United Nations reports it is running a record funding-shortfall of $4.8 billion for its aid operations in 16 crisis-ridden countries. The United Nations says it has received less than half of the $9.5 billion it needs to carry out it humanitarian operations this year.

The United Nations says the number of people needing help this year is 43 million compared to 28 million last year. As a consequence, more money is needed to care for them. The United Nations says it requires $1.5 billion or 19 percent more money this year to run its operations.

Unfortunately, the top U.N. humanitarian official, John Holmes, says the world is in worse financial shape this year than last and this is having an effect on U.N. fund-raising capabilities.

"It is also the case that the global recession itself is having an effect on the number of people in need," said Holmes. "Climate change and the adverse weather that that has an influence on means that there is continued poor harvest in many countries-and again that has an influence, a significant influence on agriculture and therefore on the amount of food assistance that is required. And, food is always the biggest single component of these appeals."

Holmes says Sudan is running the biggest shortfall of $916 million.

He says deepening drought and a rise of Somali refugees in Kenya are putting greater pressure on that country. He says the more people need assistance in the Palestinian territories, particularly in Gaza, because of the conflict with Israel early this year.

But Holmes notes the most dramatic need is in Pakistan.

"Pakistan has seen probably the most dramatic and dramatically changing humanitarian situation this year with up to two million people fleeing the military operations in parts of NW Frontier Province. Up two million, as I say. That has meant scaling up, putting up or scaling up a major aid operation with a consequence of large figure of dollars attached to it," he added.

Other areas of concern include Zimbabwe, which continues to suffer from food security. But Holmes says U.N. aid workers have been more successful in assisting people in the country since the creation of the power-sharing government.

The U.N. humanitarian official says other situations include the 250,000 Tamil civilians who remain displaced in camps in the northern part of Sri Lanka. He says millions of Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan, as well as millions of Iraqis displaced in their own country continue to need food, water, shelter and other basic relief.