Associated France Press (AFP) 1/12/2005
Annan appeals for 4.7 billion dollars for
UN global humanitarian drive
UN chief Kofi Annan appealed to donors for 4.7 billion dollars (four billion euros) to fund desperately needed humanitarian programs for 31 million victims of disasters around the world in 2006.
Flanked by UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland and Norway’s State Secretary Raymond Johansen, the secretary general officially launched the "Humanitarian Appeal 2006" here on behalf of 31 million disaster victims in 26 countries.
Egeland said the 2006 global appeal is the largest ever launched by the United Nations and noted that the amount sought could actually double by the end of that year.
"Through this appeal we ask for 4.7 billion dollars on behalf of people who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance," Annan said. "They are the survivors of conflicts, natural disasters and often terrible combinations of the two."
He cited victims of conflicts in Sudan’s Darfur region and the Central African Republic, civilians displaced by instability in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi and people facing starvation in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Egeland said the biggest component of the appeal was 1.5 billion dollars for Sudan, followed by one in excess of one billion dollars for the DRC where 1,000 people die a day because of neglect and preventable diseases.
It also included so-called consolidated appeals totalling 1.82 billion dollars for Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Liberia, occupied Palestinian territory, the Republic of Congo, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Africa’s Great Lakes region and West Africa.
"The amount we seek today, while by no means insignificant, is not large for the tasks at hand," Annan said. "It is less than what the world spends every 48 hours on its militaries. Two days of military spending against a year’s worth of life-saving humanitarian assistance. For 31 million people!"
Annan praised the generosity shown by donor countries and their citizens in response to last December’s Indian Ocean tsunami disasters and hurricanes in the Americas.
"This humanitarian appeal is an opportunity, which must not be missed, to extend that generosity to people whose plight may not capture the world’s attention, but whose suffering is no less tragic," he said.
Egeland named the biggest donors as the United States, followed by Britain, the European Commission, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Japan and Denmark. He also singled out South Africa and South Korea as significant new donors.
But Annan sought to instill a sense of urgency to the appeal.
"Historically, approximately 68 percent of the consolidated appeals have been funded. Only one tenth of funding has been contributed in the first quarter of each year," the UN chief said. "Delayed and incomplete funding prolong suffering. It costs lives."
For that reason, the UN has proposed a 500-million-dollar Global Emergency Fund to support immediate relief work whenever crisis strikes.
"Donors and member states have realized that you have to go from lottery to predictability," Egeland told AFP. "It’s uncivilized to have a system where you send the hats around each and every time you see massive deaths and suffering threatened."
He said the Fund would be formally establish in February.
"We already have nearly 200 million dollars in generous pledges by a series of countries," Egeland said. "We’re confident that we will have enough to start and I am hopeful that we will in the course of 2006 actually get to reach the full amount."
"Your generous support today will save lives. By minimizing the need for larger follow-on requests, it will also save money. It makes financial sense. And it is morally right," Annan said.
He noted that the UN would sponsor a donors’ conference in Geneva early next January to spur early giving.