UN panel: $40 billion needed to aid people in war, disasters

UNITED NATIONS (AP) An estimated $40 billion is needed annually to help the rapidly growing number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of conflicts and natural disasters _ and one possibility to help fill the $15 billion funding gap is a small voluntary tax on tickets for soccer games and other sports, concerts and entertainment events, airline travel, and gasoline, a U.N.-appointed panel said.

The panel's report on humanitarian financing, to be launched by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Dubai, says the world is spending around $25 billion today to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters - more than 12 times the $2 billion that was spent in 2000.

"We have an exponentially growing problem," said panel co-chair Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commission's vice president for budget and human resources. "The good news is that the world has never been so generous to people in need. The bad news is that never has our generosity been so insufficient."

The nine-member panel calculated that an additional $15 billion is needed annually to reduce suffering and ensure that no one in need dies or has to live "without dignity" for a lack of money.

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