17 May 2004
Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, in Vienna to Discuss Crisis Response
VIENNA 17 May (UN Information Service) -- Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, begins an official visit to Austria today. During his visit to Vienna, Mr. Egeland will meet with Austrian officials to discuss challenges in responding to humanitarian crises.
Humanitarian needs and human vulnerability are increasing on a global scale, because of conflicts, natural and manmade disasters, and disease, including the ravages of HIV/AIDS. In 2003 alone, some 200 million persons were affected by natural and man-made disasters and complex emergencies, 45 million of whom were dependent on life-saving assistance and at least 25 million persons were displaced within their own country. At least half of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in Africa and equal the global number of refugees.
Today's armed conflicts are characterized by active and deliberate targeting of civilians, who are the predominant victims of conflict, particularly in protracted wars in a dozen countries in Africa. They are affected by widespread human rights abuses, the use of rape and other crimes of sexual violence as brutal weapons of war.
The international response to these humanitarian crises remains skewed. At present, some 90 per cent of humanitarian assistance is provided by less than a dozen donors, several of whom are small in size and contribute a high percentage of their Gross Domestic Product. It is high time that other governments shared the burden of providing effective assistance to people in greatest need. Therefore, the United Nations seeks to broaden humanitarian partnerships, including with Austria, which has the capacity to play a larger role in the humanitarian donor community. Austria contributed US$ 1.8 million to Consolidated Appeals for countries in crisis in 2003, while it also provided bilateral support to a number of humanitarian activities. However, the total humanitarian aid package of Austria is far below the target figure set for 2006.
Jan Egeland has 25 years of experience in humanitarian affairs and human rights through the United Nations, the Norwegian government, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other non-governmental and academic institutions. He assumed his role as Emergency Relief Coordinator in September 2003.
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