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Annan launches appeal to help 33 million vulnerable people worldwide

Annan launches appeal to help 33 million vulnerable people worldwide

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched a $2.5 billion appeal to help 33 million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection - a move that was immediately welcomed by the members of the Security Council.

"The 2.5 billion dollars that we are seeking today is a large amount - but it is far less than what the world spends on military purposes in a single day," the Secretary-General told donors gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the launch of the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals. The meeting was also addressed by the President of the Security Council, who offered that body's support for the UN's quest to fund its relief efforts.

Mr. Annan noted that the world was currently focused on the plight of Afghans who, along with more than 30 million war- and drought affected people around the world, would have suffered through yet another winter "largely off camera" had it not been for recent events. "Is it not ironic that it took a terrorist attack and military reaction to raise awareness of the vast humanitarian needs in Afghanistan?" he asked.

While welcoming donor efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, the Secretary-General urged those present not to forget the 17 other complex humanitarian crises identified in the UN appeals. "In Angola, Somalia and Sudan, long-running civil wars continue to threaten already fragile livelihoods," he noted. "In Indonesia, 1.3 million people have become internally displaced in less than three years because of new internal conflicts." And while the past year had brought new hope for the future in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, "massive humanitarian assistance remains urgently needed."

With the number of deliberate attacks on UN staff again growing dramatically, the Secretary-General stressed that "the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians, and for safe and unhindered access to them, lies with host governments and the parties to a conflict."

Mr. Annan noted that the Consolidated Appeals Process served to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian programmes to reach people in the greatest need. By coordinating their efforts through the Appeals, UN agencies ensured that food was not provided without safe water to prepare it, and that other necessities for survival, including vaccinations against killer diseases, were not forgotten. The process also worked to make sure that "meeting urgent needs today does not compromise the capacity of a community to help itself when the immediate crisis has passed."

"No matter how good our strategy, or how well we prioritize, the United Nations and its partners cannot fulfil their commitments to millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance without the financial and political support of the Member States," the Secretary-General told donors, noting that the 2001 appeal was met with only 50 per cent of the required amount. "We must do better next year, and I repeat my appeal that we should forget no one who depends on us for help and for hope."

Echoing these sentiments, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, told donors that their contributions would restore hope and erase despair. "The investment you make today will not only help save lives, it will set the basis for self-sufficiency for people and their communities," she told the meeting, which also heard from individuals who had personally witnessed humanitarian crises in Kosovo and Ethiopia.

In a separate press statement on behalf of members of the Council, Ambassador Durrant urged all States to give generously to the appeals. "Members of the Council recognize that gaining access to vulnerable populations and the increasing need to engage with armed groups is one of the key challenges facing humanitarian agencies," she said, noting that such access was "sporadically granted or even bluntly denied."

Council members called on all States to respect the recognized rules of international humanitarian law, and to facilitate the work of aid agencies carrying out their work, Ambassador Durrant said.