Jan 21, 3:09 AM EST

Humanitarian groups appeal for $550 million to aid poorest

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Humanitarian groups say they need $550 million in 2017 to aid the most vulnerable in Afghanistan warning anything less could mean death to many.

The appeal launched Saturday says the need in Afghanistan is increasing and it's estimated that the most vulnerable number about 5.7 million people.

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden attended the launch with Afghanistan's chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Bowden says: "The current scale of need in Afghanistan calls upon the humanitarian community to deliver increased levels of assistance to ensure the lives of many Afghans are not endangered and so they can live in safety and dignity."

The displaced and the tens of thousands of refugees returning from neighboring countries are in dire need, Abdullah said.

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