everyone who needs assistance the most.

The United Nations Tuesday revealed a record $4.8 billion (2.9 billion pound) funding gap for its 2009 aid projects as a result of strained foreign assistance, widespread economic trouble and a ten-fold increase in needs in Pakistan.

“This recession is driving up humanitarian needs,” U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes told a news briefing in Geneva, where he held meetings with donor nations who will soon set their 2010 aid budgets.

A financing report prepared for those sessions stressed that the United Nations has received less than half the $9.5 billion it sought for humanitarian work this year. Yet some 43 million people need assistance this year, up from 28 million in 2008.

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The $4.8 billion shortfall for 2009 affects all major U.N. humanitarian projects, which involve supplying water, food, medical care and shelter, clearing landmines, and helping vulnerable people improve their agricultural output.

The temptation may be for countries to skimp on foreign aid in tough economic times; but ultimately, this will only prolong the recession in the places that have been impacted worst by it.

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