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U.N. renews appeal for humanitarian funds as needs grow

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Only a quarter of the $23.5 billion needed for humanitarian assistance programs worldwide this year has been received, the United Nations said on Wednesday in a fresh appeal to donors.

The world body is providing life-saving aid to civilians caught up in conflicts across the Middle East and Africa as well as to 20 million people facing famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

"New disasters and deteriorating protracted emergencies are driving up the numbers," the U.N. said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, which took office on Jan. 20, has said it is reviewing contributions to U.N. agencies. The United States has contributed $1.6 billion towards the appeal, a quarter of the $6.2 billion received, the U.N. figures show.

The United Nations originally appealed in December for $22.2 billion for this year.

But flooding in Peru, drought in Kenya and escalating violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo have swollen the total number of people needing aid to a record 141 million people in 37 countries, it said.

"Donors have invested in these efforts but we are in a race against time. People's lives and well-being depend on increasing our collective support," Stephen O’Brien, U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said in the statement.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Adrian Croft)



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