Press Releases

    SG/SM/9587
                                                                                                                            IHA/962
         15 November 2004

    ‘International Solidarity Is Crucial’, Secretary-General Says at Launch of Humanitarian Appeal for 2005

    NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks, as delivered by Secretary-General Kofi Annan today at the launch of the Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal for 2005:

    We are here today to sound an alarm on behalf of 26 million people struggling to survive the ravages of war and other emergencies.

    The greatest number of people in need are in Africa -- in countries directly affected by emergencies, such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, and in those coping with the burden of hosting large numbers of refugees, such as Chad and Guinea. This year’s Appeal also extends to the occupied Palestinian territory and to Chechnya in the Russian Federation.

    Wherever they are, whatever the politics swirling around them, these millions of men, women and children need help in staying alive and in boosting their survival strategies. Survival becomes almost impossible, for example, when vulnerable families are buffeted by problems that compound other problems, such as violent attacks, displacement from their homes, hunger, sickness, or natural disasters like the recent locust invasions in West Africa.

    In some places covered by today’s humanitarian appeal, hope for recovery is rising, amid signs of improved security, better humanitarian access, refugees returning home and growing political stability. Elsewhere, things are getting worse -- or, at best, hopes and fears hang delicately in balance. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, new fighting has raised serious concerns. In the Republic of Congo, peace still eludes some regions. In Côte d'Ivoire, breaches of the ceasefire have brought new suffering to civilians. And the Palestinian economy is in tatters, with Palestinians relying more than ever on outside assistance.

    If these situations are to see any improvement, international solidarity is crucial. Solidarity is partly intangible. The knowledge that someone’s plight is not forgotten by the world at large, or that somewhere, one’s cause has an influential champion, can bring hope. But if there are to be real improvements on the ground, solidarity must also be given tangible expression. That is what we are asking for today.

    The $1.7 billion for which we are appealing today is meant to support action by the humanitarian community to save lives, reduce reliance on aid, and prepare the ground for a more stable future.

    The action we are proposing is principled, guided by our own common humanity and by the neutrality, impartiality and independence enshrined in the Geneva Convention.

    The action is to be rigorously coordinated, with UN agencies, the Red Cross movement and non-governmental organizations working with each other, and with governments.

    Most important, the 723 projects we are proposing will be effective. In 2004, humanitarian agencies have protected, vaccinated, fed and cared for millions of people, often in very difficult circumstances. In the past year, humanitarian agencies have helped large numbers of people in Angola, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and southern Africa to move out of critical emergency conditions.

    I would like to thank governments for the support that has made such efforts possible. The most generous donors in relation to their gross domestic product -- Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden -- merit special recognition. I hope that other donor countries will follow their fine example, and that still other countries with capacity will join their ranks. We must avoid a repetition of the shortfalls in humanitarian funding that we have witnessed this year. The United Nations will host a meeting in Geneva in mid-January to launch programme implementation for 2005. At that time, donors will be invited to state their funding intentions for the year. I urge you to give, and give generously. Moreover, I appeal to you to contribute as early as possible, since this is both cost-effective and in keeping with the donorship principles and good practices to which donors subscribed last year in Stockholm.

    Humanitarians do not offer solutions to the political problems that cause most of these emergencies. But they do provide indispensable services and support, without which our world would be far less secure and far more ruthless. We must not turn our backs on the 26 million people who are looking to us for help. Responding to this Appeal will enable countries to work together, help millions of people in need, and make a vitally important investment in our common future. I implore you to do your part.

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