The United Nations has launched a record multi-million dollar appeal for funding to pay for global humanitarian needs in 2015.

Valerie Amos, UN humanitarian chief, said on Monday the number of people affected by conflicts and natural disasters around the world had reached unprecedented levels during 2014, prompting the UN to launch an appeal for $16.4bn in funding.

"Over 80 percent of those we intend to help are in countries mired in conflict where brutality and violence have had a devastating impact on their lives,” Amos said at a Geneva press conference.

A year ago, the UN asked for $12.9 bn to assist 52 million people, but during 2014, the number of people in need has nearly doubled to a record 102 million. 

Without more support, there simply is no way to respond to the humanitarian situations we’re seeing in region after region and in conflict after conflict

Valerie Amos, UN humanitarian chief

More than 40 percent of the appeal $7.2bn would go to help 18.2 million people suffering from the war in Syria.

The appeal also covers Central African Republic, Iraq, and South Sudan, 
the top humanitarian priorities, as well as Afghanistan, Congo, Myanmar, occupied Palestinian territories, Somalia, Ukraine and Yemen.

The 2015 request, on behalf of 455 aid organizations, does not include  money to help feed millions facing hunger in Africa's Sahel region, which has seen repeated droughts and conflicts.

Amos said aid in 2014 helped avert a famine in South Sudan, fed millions of Syrians each month, provided medical supplies to 1 million Iraqis and paid for food for 903,000 people in Central African Republic.

But with 80 percent of the needy living in conflict-ridden countries, the demands for aid are outstripping the ability to pay for them, Amos said. 

“Without more support, there simply is no way to respond to the humanitarian situations we’re seeing in region after region and in conflict after conflict.”

Last week, the UN World Food Program ran out of funds to feed Syrian refugees creating a new crisis for the displaced already facing a harsh winter. The WFP said it needed $64 million immediately to continue providing food.

With just three weeks left in 2014, the United Nations has received only 53 percent of the $3.7 bn it appealed for this year for Syrian humanitarian operations. The four-year-old civil war is already the largest refugee crisis in a generation and one of the largest since World War Two.

At least 3.2 million people have fled Syria and 200,000 have been killed, the United Nations says. Around a third of the people inside Syria have been made homeless.

International donors provided $9.4 billion in funding for worldwide humanitarian crises in 2014. Nevertheless, that was only 48 per cent of the total amount requested by the aid community.

She told reporters in Geneva that donors are being asked for more and more funds, "but as needs rise, the resource gap is widening."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies