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U.N. seeing record humanitarian need

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 22 (UPI) -- Donors to United Nations humanitarian programs have given $4.6 billion so far this year, but it's only half of what's needed, U.N. officials say.

John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday that despite the best ever response from donors, more crises around the world continue to create more needs.

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Holmes said that last year, for instance, there had been no crisis in Sri Lanka, no new appeal for Palestine and no crisis in Pakistan. This year, he said, U.N. humanitarian workers were helping 43 million people, a substantial increase over last year, when the appeals covered assistance to 28 million people.

Some of specific causes triggering the need for $9.5 billion in appeals include deepening food insecurity in Kenya, where refugee camps in the North have seen an influx of drought-stricken Somalis. In the Middle East, needs increased as a result of the Israeli military operation in Gaza at the beginning of the year and continuing restrictions on the entry of basic commodities to Gaza, Holmes said.

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