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HEADQUARTERS PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

4 February 2002

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will be seeking $61 million in extrabudgetary requirements, Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, told correspondents today during the noon briefing at Headquarters.

Launching the report “OCHA 2002, Activities and Extrabudgetary Funding Requirements”, she said OCHA was created in 1992 to bring a management structure to United Nations humanitarian agencies that responded to disasters, but had not been provided for in the regular budget. Over time, the department would be funded through the regular budget. This year’s budget appropriation of $9 million was not enough to fund OCHA’s activities. The extrabudgetary requirements of $61 million were needed to finance headquarters operations in New York and Geneva, field operations -- the coordination offices acting as management structures for humanitarian response in ongoing complex emergencies -- as well as capacities to respond to natural disasters.

The OCHA had headquarters staff of 250 in New York and Geneva, and 700 staff in 35 countries around the world, of whom 500 were local staff. The majority of the staff was located in complex emergency countries such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Burundi, Sudan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, Indonesia and East Timor, among others. Operational costs in Afghanistan were not included in the $61 million because of separate fund-raising, as the needs for that country were changing so rapidly.

The extrabudgetary requirements also included funding for the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) and ReliefWeb, the Web site of all United Nations, Red Cross and non-governmental organization organizations operating in complex emergency situations. She noted that ReliefWeb had received over 100 million hits last year. Donors had been very generous in the past. Last year, there had been in excess of $50 million in revenue.

In answer to a question, Ms. McAskie expressed great concern about the situation in the north of Afghanistan where, since the removal of the Taliban, the security situation had become very unstable. The OCHA had come very close to evacuating people from Mazar-i-Sharif this morning. Low levels of snow this winter were a clear signal of a fourth year of drought, and were a matter for long-term concern, she said.

Responding to another question, she said donors gave different kinds of money. In the category of “unearmarked” contributions -- money to be spent on the general budget -- the biggest contributor last year was the United Kingdom, followed by the United States, Sweden, Ireland and Australia. Donors also contributed to various operations, such as ReliefWeb, with the United States as the largest contributor, and to field offices. In the last category, the top five were the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands and Norway. Donors had always been very generous, and strong donor support provided great leverage in dealing with sister agencies.

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