Seeking to foster hope, UN launches $3 billion appeal to help 50 million people in crisis

19 November 2002

Seeking to foster hope among people affected by conflicts, natural disasters and other crises, the United Nations today launched a $3 billion appeal aimed at funding relief programmes covering 50 million people in 30 different countries and regions.

Seeking to foster hope among people affected by conflicts, natural disasters and other crises, the United Nations today launched a $3 billion appeal aimed at funding relief programmes covering 50 million people in 30 different countries and regions.

"We are here to ask for help in providing food, shelter, medicine and other life-saving assistance," UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said at the appeal's official launch in Bern, Switzerland. Stressing the need to address the root causes of humanitarian emergencies, she added, "humanitarian assistance is not an end in itself, but must be accompanied by efforts to build a bridge from disaster to development."

Ms. Fréchette appealed to donors to increase their contributions, noting that last year, the UN received just over half of what was requested. Overall levels of humanitarian funding have remained the same for the past decade, despite increasing levels of need.

She also called for States to fund all emergency responses, not just those in the media spotlight. Donors, she pointed out, "have demonstrated a real capacity to help roll back human suffering" where the cameras are - most recently in Afghanistan, and before that in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Rwanda. "But the international community has been far less forthcoming in other cases where there is equal need, but less publicity," she said, citing the civil conflict in Burundi as an example of a "forgotten emergency" that has elicited scant attention despite having claimed the lives of as many as 300,000 civilians.

The appeals cover assistance to hungry, displaced and otherwise vulnerable people living in Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Chechnya and neighbouring republics in the Russian Federation, Cote d'Ivoire and its region, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Other countries and regions slated to receive aid include Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Guinea, Indonesia, Liberia, the occupied Palestinian territory, the Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Southern Africa, the Sudan, Tajikistan and Uganda.

The launch of the "consolidated appeals" - so named because they cover the combined requirements of all concerned UN agencies - is also being held today and tomorrow in seven other cities around the world: Washington, D.C., Brussels, Luxembourg, New York, the Hague, Tokyo and Canberra.

In New York today, Carolyn McAskie, the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, noted that although the appeals cover chronic, long-term emergencies, like that unfolding in the Sudan, the UN was also finding cause for hope that in some cases - such as Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Angola - the relief effort could move from the emergency to the development and reconstruction phase.

"These appeals are the lifeline for millions of people around the world," she said, echoing the Deputy Secretary-General's call for funding to countries and regions that are not receiving media attention.

Because humanitarian crises are by nature volatile, the UN reviews and updates its appeals throughout the year, adjusting requirements in response to changing needs and launching new requests in response to sudden disasters.

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