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UN Quake Appeal Receives $580 Million In Pledges

UN Quake Appeal Receives $580 Million In Pledges, But Only $16 Million Up Front

Within hours of launching a newly increased Flash Appeal of $550 million for to save the lives of tens of thousands of earthquake survivors in Pakistan, the United Nations received pledges of $580 million, but only $15.8 million as actionable contributions.

“The good news is that we have very good pledges. The bad news for us is that we still have very little concrete commitments,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told a news conference in Geneva last night at the end of a ministerial-level donors’ conference.

“It's been a pretty long day but I think it has been a good day. Sixty Member States took the floor and expressed not only their sympathy with Pakistan but also their contributions to the relief or reconstruction effort,” he said, noting that the new pledges brought the total of recorded pledges to nearly $1.3 billion.

Opening the conference, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told more than 300 participants from 100 countries that immediate contributions were needed to prevent a second shockwave of deaths from the 8 October quake which has already killed more than 50,000 people, injured more than 74,000 and left more than 3 million homeless.

Increasing the initial $312-million Flash Appeal issued two weeks ago by a further $238 million, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that tens of thousands in towns and villages had been cut off by quake damage from relief operations while the harsh Himalayan winter approached inexorably.

Thousands of injured had not yet been treated and their injuries, although treatable, were likely to prove fatal if they are not reached within days, it said, raising its estimate of people in need of immediate assistance to 1.6 to 2 million from 1 million, and stressing the need for urgent air support to move aid to remote areas before winter.

Mr. Egeland said he told Member States the UN could not wait for the contributions for weeks because by then, the snow would have fallen and it would no longer be able to reach many communities.

The UN needed to pre-position food and relief stock now, he added. Some of the UN agencies were running out of money, three, four, five weeks into the relief effort, which was a six-month marathon if this race was to be won against the clock, and death.

“I am hopeful,” he replied when asked if Member States did not understand the immediacy of the crisis, “but I am still worried that there will not be enough money.”

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