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UN: 168 million need humanitarian help in 2020

December 4, 2019

Conflicts and climate change will force one in 45 people to seek assistance in 2020, according to a new UN report. The world body launched a $29-billion appeal to help the most vulnerable people around the world.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid in Venezuela
Image: Reuters/M. Quintero

Around 167.6 million people worldwide will need some form of emergency assistance in 2020, including food, shelter and healthcare, according to the United Nations' Global Humanitarian Overview.

The UN report said this estimate, which it said was the highest in decades, will only continue to grow "unless climate change and the root causes of conflict are better addressed."

Global Humanitarian Overview's key takeaways

  • One in 45 people in the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2020.
  • The UN and its partners will require $28.8 billion (€26 billion) to assist 109 million of the most vulnerable people.
  • The humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen received 42% of all humanitarian funding in 2019.
  • Highly violent conflicts have risen from 36 to 2018 to 41 in 2019, the first increase in four years.
  • In the first nine months of this year, 825 attacks on health workers took place, resulting in 171 deaths — more attacks and resulting deaths than the whole of 2018.

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'More protracted and intense conflicts'

Mark Lowcock, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday that humanitarian needs continue to rise because "conflicts are becoming more protracted and intense."

"People caught up in conflict suffer displacement, hunger, psycho-social trauma, and loss of their livelihoods, education facilities and health services," Lowcock said. "The brutal truth is that 2020 will be difficult for millions of people."

Read moreGermany: 1.8 million people sought humanitarian protection in 2018

What is the current situation? As of November 2019, the number of people in need sits at 166.5 million, 26% more than the UN expected a year ago. The UN and its partners aim to assist 117.4 million of these people with a financial requirement of $29.7 billion. As of mid-November, funding appeals for Haiti and Venezuela have received just 30% of their requirements. Appeals for Ethiopia, Iraq, Madagascar and Myanmar have received 80% of their funding requirements. 

Huddling in the cold in Vucjak

dv/rt (AFP, dpa)

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