Kabul - The United Nations on Saturday launched a $550m humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan, where about a third of the population is in need of assistance. Around 9.3 million people will be in need of help this year, a 13% jump from last year, according to the UN.The increase is due to the number of people in Afghanistan fleeing their homes in 2016 because of fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents, and the unanticipated influx of Afghans returning suddenly from Pakistan, the UN said. "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," said the United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Mark Bowden, in statement. According to the UN, more than half a million Afghans were internally displaced by the conflict last year and more than 600 000 Afghan refugees were forced to return to the country from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran, draining local resources. "The aid organisations are expecting around one million more Afghans to return from neighbouring countries in 2017, many of whom will require assistance," the statement said.After 15 years and tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid, Afghanistan is still dangerously unstable and persistently at the bottom of almost every major human development index.Massive displacement has plagued Afghanistan for years, beginning with the Soviet invasion in 1979. But with a growing Taliban insurgency since their ouster in 2001, the violence has now been driven to Afghan cities that puts more civilians in the crosshairs.