$1 billion must be found to help 21 million people in 2015, says WHO

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Syrian Child. Photot: WFP/Abeer Etefa (file)

The sheer scale of humanitarian needs has stretched the UN's aid system to the limit, World Health Organization says.

It's calling for $1 billion to help four countries: Iraq, Central African Republic, Syria and South Sudan.

An estimated 21 million people affected by conflict urgently need the cash , as Daniel Johnson reports.

One billion dollars…that’s what’s the UN health agency said on Tuesday it needs to help tens of millions of people in four countries where conflict is raging.

The money, when it comes, is destined for 21 million people in Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria.

At the appeal launch, World Health Organization experts from the four countries said that each one was in crisis – and each needed the highest level of care the UN can offer.

Dr Jaffar Hussain, WHO head of mission for Iraq, said the Islamic State insurrection only reinforced existing chronic healthcare problems stretching back two decades.

 "Without that support or the active humanitarian support we may be losing a lot of lives, particularly the most vulnerable population, that is children and women and old aged people."

WHO representative for Central African Republic Dr Michel Yao said that there was a serious risk of infectious disease spreading because of the 400,000 displaced people there, along with the extremely low level of vaccination coverage.

In Syria WHO's Dr Elizabeth Hoff said people's health was worsening, with an uptick in water-borne disease infections such as hepatitis A.

In South Sudan, the agency's Dr Tarande Manzila said the money "was needed yesterday", before the rainy season hits in May, to avoid the spread of disease.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations.

Duration: 1'18"

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