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Donors make up shortfall Iraq humanitarian appeal

UN urges donors to make up shortfall in humanitarian appeal for Iraq

The United Nations today appealed to donor countries to make up an outstanding $259 million in funding needed to carry out its humanitarian relief operations in Iraq through to the end of the year.

The amount covers the remainder of the $2.2 billion flash appeal launched in March and unpredicted requirements that emerged during and after the conflict in Iraq from widespread looting and the destruction of hundreds of public facilities. About 88 per cent of the $2.2 billion has already been pledged.

“There is still much work to be done and more resources needed,” Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said at the formal launching of the appeal at UN Headquarters in New York, despite the despatch of more than 800,000 tons of food, the daily provision of millions of litres of fresh water, the supply of medicine across the country, the distribution of school kits to 400,000 children and the repair of water, sewage and power facilities.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kenzo Oshima, said the food sector remained the largest component of overall requirements but was fully funded thanks to “generous donor support” and more than $1 billion in resources from the Oil-for-Food programme, under which the ousted regime was allowed to sell oil for humanitarian supplies.

“In other sectors, we still need significant additional resources to allow agencies to respond to priority needs,” Mr. Oshima said. “Assistance to the basic health system and nutrition support now account for about 30 per cent of outstanding funding needs.” He added that education and mine clearance were two other areas “in which we plan to expand assistance significantly in the coming weeks and months.”

For his part, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, said lack of security continued to inhibit relief activities, and looting and re-looting of rehabilitated infrastructures was creating “a deep sense of frustration among the population and the humanitarian community.”

Mr. da Silva said that under the leadership of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, “the major challenge faced by the United Nations is to interpret the aspirations of the Iraqi people and respond to these needs.”

“We will intensify efforts to ensure a quality dialogue, while [Mr. Vieira de Mello] continues contact with a wide variety of Iraqi leaders,” he added, especially with Iraqi women. “We are proposing in the appeal a project to strengthen the UN’s approach to gender equity,” he said. “Dialogue with Iraqi women will be given priority in the months ahead, particularly due to the visible erosion of gains of the past.”

Following the launch of the appeal, there was a closed session during which senior officials from UN agencies working in Iraq will brief on the current humanitarian situation in the country.

On Tuesday, there is scheduled an informal information-sharing and planning meeting on Iraq, to be opened by the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, Mark Malloch Brown, which will include many of the same delegations attending the Monday meeting.


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