U.N. humanitarian agencies face record funding gap this year

FILE PHOTO: Cattle affected by the effects of the drought situation eat fodder in an open field in Adadle district, Biyolow Kebele in Somali region of Ethiopia, in this undated handout photograph. Michael Tewelde/World Food Programme/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian projects face a record funding gap this year, with only a third of the required $48.7 billion secured so far as global needs outpace pledges, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday.

The money is needed to help around 204 million people worldwide as armed conflict and climate change, such as the war in Ukraine and the drought in the Horn of Africa, emerge as key drivers of "mega crises" that threaten the livelihoods of whole communities.

"More than halfway through the year, the funding shortfall is $33.6 billion, our biggest funding gap ever," Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesman told a media briefing.

"The needs in the world are rising much faster than the donor funding is coming in," he added.

So far $15.2 billion has been collected by the mid-year mark, also a record, Laerke said, in a year of soaring humanitarian needs.

According to OCHA's website, the United States is the top donor, contributing just over $8 billion, while the World Food Programme was the largest recipient.

The nearly $50 billion needed includes all the U.N. coordinated appeals worldwide, like the annual humanitarian response plans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria, as well as flash appeals in Ukraine and regional appeals for refugees in Afghanistan.

The money is meant for all U.N. humanitarian agencies and some NGOs, but does not cover appeals from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the ICRC because they have independent appeal processes, Laerke said.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ros Russell)

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