Individual United Nations humanitarian agencies today began lobbying donors to contribute to the $3 billion Consolidated Appeal for 2004 launched by Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday to help 45 million people in 21 countries.
“As important as the crises affecting Afghanistan and Iraq are, these are not the only places in the world where children’s lives are being devastated by emergency conditions,” the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, said in a statement. “It’s our responsibility to look beyond the headlines to the crises and emergencies that are impacting millions of people in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”
This year’s appeal goes beyond national borders and looks at 21 specific crises – like famine and the HIV/AIDS pandemic that are affecting much of southern Africa – that are regional in nature and require a complex, coordinated response.
Children are always the most vulnerable in emergencies, the statement said. Most children who die in wartime do not die as a direct result of violence but from the consequences of conflict: malnutrition, disease, lack of shelter, no access to safe water or sanitation.
“UNICEF recognizes that when crisis strikes, tailor-made, rapid responses are critical, but to be effective in the long-term responses must also bring sustainable solutions,” Ms. Bellamy declared. “Humanitarian aid is not about band-aids and blankets. A road map out of the crisis and into long-term development and recovery is critical to our mission.”
For its part the UN World Health Organization (WHO) called on donors to urgently invest in health services for 45 million children, women and men caught up in the world’s deadliest crises by contributing $341 million to build and maintain necessary health services for people in the 21 designated countries.
“More and more people are affected by crises and conflict,” WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said in a statement. “They face a myriad of threats – many beyond anyone’s immediate control. But by funding health in crises, donors can help ensure quick action to get health services to people in need.”
Globally, at least one billion people in more than 40 countries are affected by crises and the 45 million targeted in the 2004 appeal are the most vulnerable, WHO said. Some are in danger because of sudden natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, a fire or a chemical accident. Millions more are affected by long-term, complex crises as a result of ongoing violent conflict. A third wave of crises, recently declared by WHO as a global public health emergency, is the lack of access to treatment for the millions affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is reversing decades of social, economic and cultural development in many countries.
The crises included in the 2004 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.