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Annan launches UN humanitarian appeal for $3bil

Annan launches UN’s 2004 humanitarian appeal for $3 billion

Declaring “no one should die because they lack food and medicine that are available in surplus elsewhere,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched the 2004 annual Consolidated Appeal on behalf of United Nations humanitarian agencies, calling for $3 billion to help 45 million people in 21 countries.

“Let us be clear: the aid we give them is not charity, it is their right,” Mr. Annan told a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York. He stressed that most of the proposed beneficiaries were children, women and the elderly struggling to survive displacement, loss and severe disruption to their lives in wars, conflicts and natural disasters.

“Victims of natural and man-made disasters have a right to the fulfilment of their basic needs. And donors and citizens who can help have not only a moral responsibility to provide emergency and life-sustaining assistance, but an obligation to do so under international humanitarian and human rights law,” he added.

Noting that the $3 billion sought amounted to “little more than $3 per person in donor countries – the cost of a magazine or two cups of coffee,” Mr. Annan declared: “With that amount we will help save lives in 21 of the world’s most serious crises – from Chechnya (Russian Federation) to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and many countries and regions in Africa.”

He also stressed the security aspect of the appeal for wealthy nations. “A world where, amid increasing global prosperity, millions still live in desperate conditions, will not be a world at peace,” he said. “Indeed timely aid to those who need it most can do much to help prevent conflict.”

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He noted that only 66 per cent of the $3 billion sought in the current 2003 appeal had so far been received and that even that figure was misleading because funding levels remained uneven – 91 per cent of the amount requested for Iraq, a third of the total, having been funded while Burundi only received 28 per cent of the amount sought and Liberia 24 per cent.

The annual appeal is put together by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and is a product of the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), a mechanism created a decade ago by the UN General Assembly to plan a common humanitarian strategy and maximize resources.

This year’s campaign is being held under the theme “Hear Our Voices,” with some of the beneficiaries telling their own stories. “We are trying to put the focus back on the people we are working for,” said a spokesperson for OCHA, Stephanie Bunker.

Moderating today's event, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, said the appeal needed generous funding from more States and donors since funding levels were remaining stagnant despite increasing needs.

Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said the launch was not about asking for permanent welfare checks. Rather, it was about strategically moving countries from relief to rehabilitation and reconstruction.

For his part, Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of Angola, speaking in his capacity as President of the Security Council for November, said that without the CAP, the conditions of people living in conflict zones would be much worse. His own country had benefited greatly from the CAP, both during and after its bitter conflict. It had helped people regain control of their lives and had put them on the path towards self-sufficiency, he added.

The crises included in this year’s appeal are: Angola, Burundi, Chechnya and Neighbouring Republics (Russian Federation), Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire (plus 3 – Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, the Great Lakes Region, Guinea, Liberia, the occupied Palestinian territory, Sierra Leone, Somalia, the southern Africa region, the Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa and Zimbabwe

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