Press Releases

    AFR/437
    IHA/743
    22 July 2002

    United Nations Launches Consolidated National Appeals for Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa

    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    NEW YORK, 19 July (UN Headquarters) -- The United Nations today launched a $611 million humanitarian appeal to help secure food, medicine and other relief supplies for 13 million people on the brink of starvation in Southern Africa.

    "There is still an opportunity to avert famine and to save lives, but this window is closing rapidly," the Secretary-General said in a message delivered on his behalf by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima at yesterday's launch event.

    The Secretary-General announced his decision to appoint James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, as his Special Envoy on the Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa.

    Underscoring the urgency of the crisis, Mr. Oshima said, "We can avert a famine if we act now. We cannot wait until we see the horrific images that are all too familiar from previous famines. This will require concerted effort from the governments in the region, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the United Nations and its non-governmental organization partners and the donor community. We all have a role to play to form a coherent regional response."

    Richard Mugwara, who co-chaired the event on behalf of the SADC, read a declaration from SADC's food, agriculture and natural resource Ministers announcing their determination to undertake timely and appropriate action to ensure that the people of the region "never again" face the threat of food and livelihood insecurity, such as now exists.

    The countries covered under the appeal are Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where crop production has dropped each of the last two years due to drought and flooding. The situation in those countries has been compounded by the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and a range of other problems, including land degradation and poor management of strategic grain reserves, United Nations officials said. The appeal, which is the product of detailed multi-sectoral assessments and intensive consultations with stakeholders, seeks $611 million to meet urgent food and non-food needs in the six affected countries over the next 12 months.

    At the event, representatives from the affected countries described their countries' plight and outlined ways in which they would prevent the already dire situation from becoming worse. They engaged in a frank exchange of views with donors, in order to reach consensus on a coherent, coordinated and focused response to the current crisis.

    Mr. Oshima expressed his appreciation to all the donors who announced new contributions, or pledged their ongoing commitment to meeting the requirements of the appeal.

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