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PRESS CONFERENCE BY UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS

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

30 November 2005

If a billion wealthy people gave global humanitarian workers the equivalent of two orders of pricey $2-a-cup gourmet coffee, the United Nations Humanitarian Appeal 2006 would come close to reaching its goal of $4.7 billion, Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said at a Headquarters press conference today.

He made the comparison as he launched the Appeal for 2006, which is aimed at providing life-saving assistance to 31 million people in 26 countries around the globe from Burundi to Zimbabwe. The largest funding requests are $1.5 billion for the Sudan and nearly $1.18 billion for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Increased aid demands for the latter country -– where 1,000 people die every day from neglect and preventable diseases -- stem from increased humanitarian access to all areas of the national territory.

And in response to a reporter’s question about aid for the Sudan, Mr. Egeland said later that $600 million was intended for Darfur, $600 million for south Sudan and the balance for the east and Khartoum, the capital. “Things are not going well in Darfur. We’re stretched to the limit and the humanitarian community is hanging by its fingernails”, he said, adding that both the Sudan and northern Uganda needed stronger peacekeeping and security measures. Flash Appeals made in 2005 that still needed funds in the coming year included those for flood-ravaged Guatemala, famine-stricken Malawi, earthquake-hit Pakistan, cholera-plagued West and Central Africa, and tsunami-devastated Indian Ocean region.

“We have never asked for so much money”, Mr. Egeland said, referring to the 2006 Appeal. “There has been an increase in natural disasters and we have larger programmes in countries plagued by violence. We’re asking donors to give more and give earlier.” The cost of assistance could skyrocket if, for example, a lack of funding prevented the delivery of food by more time-consuming but economical vehicles, and food had to be airlifted at a later time when money became available.

The Humanitarian Appeal 2006 is part of the annual Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) that serves as a tool for aid organizations -- including United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and the International Organization for Migration -- to plan, coordinate, implement and monitor their activities under the guidance of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The first appeal was launched in 1992.

Mr. Egeland said that while the number of CAP donors had risen from 29 in 2001 to 74 in 2005, 90 per cent of the funding still came from 10 countries. The top donor was the United States and others included the United Kingdom, the European Commission, Sweden, Norway and Japan. South Africa and the Republic of Korea were among countries that were making increasingly larger contributions. Also contributing more money were countries in the Gulf region, but much of that was in the form of bilateral aid given through charities or from one Government to another.

Asked what CAP was doing to broaden its sources of funding, Mr. Egeland said officials were giving their traditional donors more information and assessment material as they reached out to other countries -- such as China, the Gulf countries and South Africa -– for more money. United Nations officials were also targeting the private sector, which was “good but unpredictable”. The private sector needed to provide more predictable flows of funding, and the Under-Secretary-General would take up that issue with business leaders at the annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland.

He agreed with a reporter’s comment that the United Nations appeared to be giving conflicting messages as it reported more effective peacekeeping operations and fewer outbreaks of conflict, while, at the same time, appealing for larger amounts of aid. The Humanitarian Appeal 2006 was the largest ever made at the onset of the appeal process, but the amount requested could increase to $6 billion by the end of 2006.

“It is a paradox”, he said, pointing out that in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo humanitarian workers were gaining access to areas and people that they had previously lacked. Other factors behind the request for more sizeable amounts of aid included the extreme weather patterns that created droughts in Africa and hurricanes in the Caribbean, as well as more effective methods. “We’re getting better at assessing needs and doing our jobs”, he added.

An appeal for $1.7 billion had initially been made for 2005, an amount that had increased to nearly $6 billion by year’s end, he said. At the end of November 2005, funding for all appeals launched for 2005 stood at just under $3.4 billion, or 57 per cent of requirements. It should be at two thirds of requirements and it was to be hoped that 2006 would be fully covered.

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For information media • not an official record



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