Life-saving UN relief operations in Sudan face $200 million budget gap - Annan

Life-saving UN relief operations in Sudan face $200 million budget gap - Annan

Kofi Annan briefs press
The United Nations has received just $145 million so far of the $349 million in funds it has requested to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis engulfing Sudan's Darfur region, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today, explaining the world body particularly needs helicopters and other equipment to deliver aid.

Mr. Annan also told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York that the Sudanese Government has not taken "adequate steps" to meet its commitments to disarm the Arab-dominated Janjaweed militias that have conducted deadly attacks against Darfur's black African population.

The more than 1 million people who are internally displaced in Darfur have a "right to be nervous," Mr. Annan said, adding they need to see Khartoum take practical measures to improve security before they can be expected to return to their home villages.

"The Sudanese Government doesn't have forever" to meet the pledges - such as disarming the Janjaweed and punishing those responsible for human rights abuses - it made on 3 July in a joint communiqué with the UN, the Secretary-General added.

He said the UN may move to take tougher action against Sudan if it is not satisfied that the Government is making enough headway towards achieving its targets.

So far progress has been uneven, he said, although he praised Khartoum for improving access to humanitarian agencies previously restricted from operating in Darfur.

Senior UN officials have described the situation unfolding in Darfur and neighbouring Chad, where about 180,000 people live as refugees, as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The conflict began early last year when two rebel groups took up arms against the Sudanese Government.

Mr. Annan said the international community has a responsibility to step up pressure on Sudan to meet its commitments and on all sides to negotiate a peace agreement "in good faith." But he noted that foreign donors are well behind in meeting the UN appeal for funds for Darfur and Chad.

"We need money and more resources for humanitarian efforts. We need them now, not tomorrow. Tomorrow may already be too late," he said. "We are $204 million short. I appeal to donors to make good on the pledges they have already made, and to increase their assistance."

Mr. Annan said UN agencies also need specific help with equipment, specifying six helicopters are required to transport aid to Darfur's more remote areas during the current rainy season.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that UN agencies are distributing more food and basic household supplies to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North Darfur. Two water boreholes have been completed and more than 3,000 extra latrines will be built in IDP camps.

In South Darfur, the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a cholera vaccination campaign today with the help of local community leaders.

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Video of press briefing [44mins]