UN warns of massive funding shortfall as global crises mount

The international institution warns humanitarian aid sector facing funding crisis amid conflict and climate emergencies.

Gaza aid
United Nations and Red Crescent workers prepare the aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir el-Balah, Gaza Strip [File: Hassan Eslaiah/AP]

The United Nations has called for $46bn in funding for 2024 as it scrambles to get aid to millions hit by humanitarian crises around the globe.

Noting the situations in the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Ukraine, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its Global Humanitarian Overview for 2024 that funding shortages mean it will only be able to provide aid to just over half of the nearly 300 million people that will require it next year.

OCHA called the humanitarian outlook for 2024 “bleak,” warning that conflict, climate emergencies and collapsing economies are “wreaking havoc” on the most vulnerable people around the world.

And as the number and scale of crises mounts, the humanitarian aid system is facing a major funding crisis, OCHA said.

“In 2023, we received just over one-third of the $57 billion required,” UN aid chief Martin Griffiths wrote in a statement. “This is the worst funding shortfall in years. Yet, we still managed to deliver life-saving assistance and protection to 128 million people around the world.”

“I think the Middle East as a whole, and Gaza and West Bank, is probably going to be the area of greatest need,” Griffiths said. “But Ukraine is going through desperate times and a war that will restart in full swing next year. It will need a lot of attention.”

Those in need also include 74 million people in East and Southern Africa, most of whom are affected by the crisis in Sudan.

Griffiths also highlighted that climate change would impact OCHA’s work.

“Climate displaces more children now than conflict. It was never thus before,” he said.

Despite the mounting crises, OCHA says that it has seen donations dwindle. As a result, the target for 2024 has had to be scaled back to helping 181 million people, rather than the 245 million originally targeted.

Griffiths said it had been difficult to decrease the size of the funding requested for 2024 and to ensure aid agencies were “realistic, focused and tough-minded” when assessing needs.

However, the office insisted that the work of the UN and other humanitarian partners will continue.

Source: News Agencies