Press Releases

    IHA/1121
    1 December 2005

    Secretary-General Seeks $4.7 Billion for Desperately Needed Assistance in 26 Countries, at Headquarters Launch of 2006 Humanitarian Appeal

    NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Humanitarian Appeal 2006 was seeking $4.7 billion to provide desperately needed assistance to 31 million survivors of conflict and natural disasters in 26 countries, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, as he launched the event at Headquarters.

    Those in need, he said, included women and children threatened by conflicts in Darfur and the Central African Republic; villagers made homeless by floods and hurricanes in Guatemala; civilians displaced by instability in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi; and families lacking food in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.  Many lived in unimaginable conditions with little or no access to health care, clean water, food, shelter and other essentials for survival.

    In a world of plenty, the suffering of those people "is a terrible stain on our conscience", he said.  Many of them feel forgotten, victims not only of terrible circumstances, but of a world in which suffering "must be beamed into our living rooms" to pry open pocketbooks.  "We are better than that.  Today, let us send a message to these people that though they may be largely unseen, they are by no means forgotten."

    He said the amount sought today was less than the world spent every 48 hours on its militaries, adding that two days of military spending could provide a year's worth of life-saving humanitarian assistance.  Historically, only about 68 per cent of the Consolidated Appeals had been funded, a mere tenth of the funding had been contributed in the first quarter of each year, and there had been great disparity in funding among different crises.

    The United Nations had proposed a Global Emergency Fund to support immediate relief work whenever crisis struck, he said, and had invited donors to Geneva in January 2006, to lay down their funding goals for the year.  The recent World Summit had called for more timely and predictable humanitarian funding, for standby capacities, for timely response to humanitarian emergencies, and for strengthened coordination within the humanitarian community.  Today was an occasion for donors to answer that call.

    Speaking for the donor community, Raymond Johansen, Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway, stressed the need for a reformed humanitarian partnership, noting that the Emergency Fund could end perpetual under-funding of standby and preparedness mechanisms.  Ensuring adequate funds for timely response to humanitarian disasters, assigning lead responsibilities to United Nations agencies and strengthening the role of the humanitarian coordinator, could vastly improve the humanitarian system -- and were all closely interlinked.

    Adding, however, that the humanitarian community still faced many challenges, he said it must find a way to link humanitarian action with overall development goals, further develop the Consolidated Appeals Process as an instrument for strategic planning and prioritization, and broaden the donor base to ensure more funding for each consolidated appeal.  The international community must make the necessary commitments to consolidate its humanitarian partnership, and ensure that its response to humanitarian needs was as fast and cost-effective as possible.

    Similarly, Jamilah Mahmood, President of Mercy Malaysia, stressed the need to reach beneficiaries quickly, quoting Pakistan as an example, where workers must race against the winter to reach earthquake victims.  In achieving a more efficient and strengthened partnership between diverse humanitarian actors for a more rapid response, the United Nations must work closely with other international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

    Asian NGOs had delivered aid quickly in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, by earning the trust of those they were helping due to their familiarity with the beneficiaries' culture, she said.  Institutional dialogue across the NGO community must be encouraged through the Interagency Standing Committee, and Asian NGOs should be properly recognized by lifting the "northern bias" against them.  Donor nations in the East and South must also play a more active role through consolidated appeals, and partnerships must be forged with the beneficiaries themselves to include them in planning and implementation strategies. 

    Highlighting events in his country, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Humanitarian Coordinator, Cote d'Ivoire, said on a video-link that it had been immersed in a protracted crisis for the last three years, which had plunged people into deepening poverty and eroded public services.  Every year, the crisis ate up 3 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, while development funding dried up and humanitarian funding reached its limit. 

    Currently, some 500,000 internally displaced people, and more than 700,000 children were unable to attend school and were preyed upon as potential soldiers or victims of child labour.  About 50 per cent of the rural population in the north and west lacked access to potable water, and 60 per cent had no basic medical care.  He appealed for $40 million to address the needs of more than 3.5 million vulnerable persons, representing 20 per cent of the population, which would be devoted to agriculture, food security, nutrition, health, education, water and protection.

    Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who chaired the event, paid tribute during the Appeal to United Nations staff who had lost their lives during humanitarian crises in the field over the past year.

    For more information, see www.humanitarianappeal.net .

    For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA- New York, tel:  +1 917 367 5126, mobile:  +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA- New York, tel:  +1 917 367 9262; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, tel:  +41 22 917 2653, mobile:  +41 79 473 4570.

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