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Shocking contrast in response to world emergencies

New figures show shocking contrast in response to world emergencies

While the world’s richest countries have given millions of dollars to ensure that the UN appeal for the tsunami is funded, their response to the world's 15 other biggest emergencies has been stingy, said international agency Oxfam today.

The Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, Barry Coates said: "The tsunami has shown that, when the world wants to deal with a humanitarian crisis, it can mobilise massive resources to save lives and help people rebuild their communities. But, so far, the global response to other emergencies has been stingy in comparison. The aid agenda should be set according to need, and not according to media coverage."

In November last year, Kofi Annan launched an appeal for the world's 15 worst crises, in which 29 million people urgently need help. According to UN figures, just 4% of what is needed has been pledged, which shows how rich countries give according to their political interests rather than humanitarian need.

The new figures come out as donors meet in Switzerland to discuss their aid spending plans for 2005. Donations by the international community to some of the world's worst humanitarian disasters have so far been very slow, and are almost 10% down on what they were at this time last year.

Of particular concern is their neglect of the crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where armed militias have forced around 2 million people from their homes. The UN has appealed for NZ$2.01 billion for Sudan, but has so far received only 5% of this total. This amounts to just $22 per person.

By contrast, the international community has provided around NZ$700 for each individual affected by the tsunami.

The figures also show that: The UN has appealed for NZ$220 million for Uganda, but so far it has received just $1.67 million, or 0.8% of what is required. This amounts to just 70 cents per person affected by the war in northern Uganda. The UN appeal for West Africa, a region recently plagued by locusts, has so far received nothing. As a result 400,000 people are without food in Mauritania and Mali. The UN appeal for the Democratic Republic of Congo has received only NZ$1.1million, just 0.4% of what is needed to save the lives of 1.2 million people. The appeal so far provides just 83 cents per person affected by the conflict.

Oxfam is encouraging members of the public to remember the forgotten cirses in the world, and to be as generous as they were to the tsunami devastated countries. Oxfam is revitalising its appeal for the refugees in Darfur, Sudan, calling for donations to 0800 600 700.

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