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Extra $61 million sought by UN to coordinate worldwide relief aid in emergencies

Extra $61 million sought by UN to coordinate worldwide relief aid in emergencies

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today kicked off a $61.1 million appeal for extra funding to deal with emergencies in conflict and disaster-afflicted countries around the world.

As the appeal - "OCHA in 2002: Activities and Extrabudgetary Funding Requirements" - was being launched simultaneously in New York and Geneva, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, noted that "more than ever, OCHA's role as coordinator of humanitarian assistance efforts is critical to the success of emergency response."

Briefing the press in New York, Mr. Oshima's deputy, Carolyn McAskie, said that the additional funding was needed because just under $9 million of OCHA's requirements for 2002 are covered through the UN's regular budget.

"That's not enough to fund what we do around the world," she said, noting that the $61 million will be used to finance OCHA's headquarters activities in New York and Geneva, but mostly to run its field operations, which are the coordination offices that manage the UN's response to ongoing emergency situations as well as short-term crises such as natural disasters or armed conflicts.

OCHA's current request does not include money needed for operations in Afghanistan, funding for which was petitioned for in a separate appeal, Ms. McAskie added.

"The donors have been very generous in the past, and we find that a very high percentage of our funding requirements are met," Ms. McAskie said, adding that last year OCHA received more that $50 million in donations for its activities.

OCHA currently has offices in 34 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe – having nearly doubled its field presence over the last five years alone. This year, it will consolidate its offices in the Horn of Africa into a regional support office for Central and East Africa, and set up a regional support office in West Africa. It will also strengthen capacities for disaster response regionally in Africa, Asia and Latin America.