The United Nations and its partners have launched an appeal for a record $51.5bn in aid money for 2023, with tens of millions of additional people expected to need humanitarian assistance.
The UN Global Humanitarian Overview estimates that an extra 65 million people will need help next year, bringing the total to 339 million in 68 countries.
That represents more than 4 percent of the people on the planet or about the population of the United States.
“It’s a phenomenal number and it’s a depressing number,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told reporters in Geneva on Thursday, adding that it meant “next year is going to be the biggest humanitarian programme” the world has ever seen.
“For people on the brink, this appeal is a lifeline.”
The overlapping crises have already left the world dealing with the “largest global food crisis in modern history”, the UN warned.
It pointed out that at least 222 million people across 53 countries were expected to face acute food shortages by the end of this year, with 45 million of them facing the risk of starvation.
“Five countries already are experiencing what we call famine-like conditions, in which we can confidently, unhappily, say that people are dying as a result,” Griffiths said.
Those countries – Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia and South Sudan – have seen portions of their populations face “catastrophic hunger” this year, but have not yet seen countrywide famines declared.
This year’s appeal represents a 25 percent increase compared with last year.
But donor funding is already under strain with the multiple crises. The UN faces the biggest funding gap ever, with its appeals funded only about 53 percent in 2022, based on data through to mid-November.
“Humanitarian organisations are therefore forced to decide who to target with the funds available,” a UN statement said.