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UN says aid distribution must not be media-driven

UN refugee agency chief says aid distribution must not be media-driven

12 January 2006 – Speaking at a conference in Geneva following up on the $4.5 billion United Nations Humanitarian Appeal for 2006, the head of the world body’s refugee agency today said aid must be channelled based on the real situation of the people affected and not media coverage or political factors.

António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said assistance should not be given on the basis of “strategic considerations or the impact on public opinion” and called on the humanitarian community to work “based on fairness and responsibility.”

He also cautioned against forgetting the most urgent needs when the media spotlight fades, including the situation in Darfur, Sudan, which he called “the most pressing political and humanitarian problem in Africa today.”

Today’s meeting in Geneva gave representatives of UN Member States the opportunity to state their humanitarian priorities as well as their funding intentions for this year.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the yearly Humanitarian Appeal on 30 November, seeks $4.5 billion for urgent support to 31 million people in 26 countries stricken by war, natural disasters, drought and a combination of such scourges worldwide this year.

The “Humanitarian Appeal 2006”comprises the Consolidated Appeals for relief projects of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, occupied Palestinian territory, Republic of Congo, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, the Great Lakes region of Africa and the West African region.

Flash Appeals, which are released in response to sudden onset emergencies during the year, are not included in the Humanitarian Appeal. Last year was a record year for Flash Appeals, with 10 issued and requirements totalling just over $2 billion.

Funding requirements for major ongoing emergencies such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan are included, though, with the latter country requiring the most funding for 2006 – $1.5 billion.

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