, GENEVA, Nov 30 – The United Nations on Tuesday launched its biggest appeal for relief funds, saying it needed 7.4 billion dollars in 2011 to provide urgent humanitarian aid to over 50 million people in 28 countries.
"On behalf of the millions of people needing urgent help and the hundreds of organisations that have come together to devise these plans, I appeal for 7.4 billion dollars to help some of the most vulnerable people in the world survive the effects of disaster and conflict," said UN chief Ban Ki-moon in the foreword of the aid appeal.
The biggest share of the appeal — 1.7 billion dollars — will go to Sudan, where millions have been displaced from troubled Darfur alone.
Much of the funds are budgeted for food and livelihoods, and the UN pointed out that aid efforts will continue "life-saving assistance," but also help the country to strengthen its preparedness against future shocks.
The massive 2010 natural catastrophes in Pakistan and Haiti will also require close to two billion dollars in total.
In Pakistan, where homes for millions of people have been washed away by historic floods, funds are needed to build shelter, as well as provide access to clean drinking water, food, sanitation and healthcare.
"The overarching goal of this plan is to prevent excess morbidity and mortality and to enable flood-affected communities to return to their normal lives," said the UN.
In earthquake-ravaged Haiti, where a cholera epidemic since mid-October has killed at least 1,721 people, the lion\’s share of the funds would go towards water and sanitation.
"The pace at which the current cholera epidemic has spread underlines the fact that too many people are still vulnerable to water-borne infection, nearly a year after the earthquake," the UN said.
Other countries or regions covered in the appeal include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Kenya, Chad, Zimbabwe, west Africa, Yemen, Niger, Central African Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Djibouti.
"Humanitarian action is no substitute for development that alleviates poverty; but it is unconscionable to fail to act to save lives and to help people regain decent living conditions in any cases, whether the root causes of a crisis come from extreme chronic vulnerabilities and accumulated stresses or a sudden extraordinary event," stressed the UN.