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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Wednesday 7 December 2005

GREAT LAKES: UN appeal seeks $54.5 million for recovery efforts

NAIROBI, 7 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - The 2006 annual UN appeal to donors for humanitarian aid to Africa's Great Lakes region, which is for US $154.5 million, focuses more on recovery efforts than on emergency relief, UN officials said at the appeal's launch on Tuesday.

"Countries in the region are moving towards peace, and this appeal takes that into account," said Valerie Julliand, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Support Office for East and Central Africa for the (OCHA-RSO), in her opening remarks at the 2006 Consolidated Appeal for the Great Lakes in Nairobi.

"We are now, for example, concerned with food security - not just food aid," she said, referring to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization projects in the appeal, which will cost $3.6 million, up from $2.7 million in 2005.

With the peaceful change of government in Burundi in 2005 and the peace process taking hold in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), tens of thousands of refugees have begun returning home.

Many lack seeds and farm equipment, however, and schools are not ready to receive the influx of returning children.

The 2006 appeal is requesting $1.9 million to fund regional education projects, up from $723,200 in 2005.

Overall, the 2006 Great Lakes regional appeal has grown to $154.5 million from $102.3 million in 2005. As in 2005, the bulk of the money requested is for food aid, with the UN World Food Programme asking for $124 million, up from $82 million.

Guest speaker Carolyn McAskie, the head of the UN Mission in Burundi, said: "People have to be fed before they can engage in development and rebuild their lives.

"We have to keep fast-action humanitarian assistance going while the slower development activities gradually pick up."

McAskie said she does not understand why, each year, the UN must seek funds to provide people with basic human needs.

"Why is feeding people a voluntary contribution while UN peacekeeping is an accessed contribution?" she said.

UN member states are only obliged to pay accessed contributions; they fund the UN's annual appeals for humanitarian assistance voluntarily.

"This funding system needs to be revamped," she said.

The director of OCHA's Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division, Dennis McNamara, said there was a need for humanitarian organizations to do more to deal with the underlying causes of conflict and displacement.

"Agencies do way too little to address these fundamental causes," he said. "That's why some of these conflicts have lasted for 19 or 20 years."

Sexual violence was another issue highlighted at the launch, with the concurrent release of a photo essay book, Broken Bodies, Broken Dreams, published by OCHA's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). An exhibition of images from the book was also on display.

The regional appeal includes a UN Children's Fund project on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, which is part of a $2.3 million request from various agencies for projects on protection, human rights and rule of law.

"Gender-based violence is a tool of war but also endemic within society," McAskie said.

She, and other speakers, said sexual violence, like many other issues, needed to be dealt with at the regional level.

However the UN is also launching other, country-specific appeals in 2006 for humanitarian aid to the Great Lakes countries of Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Collectively, the regional and Great Lakes country appeals for 2006 add up to $1.75 billion.

"The reality is that these appeals represent a fraction of what is needed," McAskie said.

[ENDS]

This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005



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