Reuters International

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. agencies almost doubled their 2017 appeal for South Sudan's refugees on Monday, saying they needed at least $1.4 billion (1.08 billion pounds) to help alleviate "unimaginable" levels of suffering.

The U.N. refugee agency and the World Food Programme had earlier asked for $781 million to support more than 1.8 million people fleeing fighting. But even that was only 14 percent funded, the agencies said in a joint statement.

"The suffering of the South Sudanese people is just unimaginable ... They are close to the abyss," WFP Executive Director David Beasley said.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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