The United Nations Security Council today expressed its deep concern over troubling humanitarian situations in many parts of Africa and, recognizing that the efforts to turn back such crises were often under-funded, stressed the need for the prompt and predictable provision of resources and relief aid.
Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark, Council President for May, highlighted the concerns of the body's 15 members in a press statement summing up the discussions on the world's greatest humanitarian challenges – all of which are in Africa – that took place during a closed-door briefing given by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.
"As regards northern Uganda, members of the Council condemned the atrocities carried out by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and called on the LRA to cease all acts of violence and enter into peace negotiations," said Ambassador Løj.
She added that Council members also expressed the hope that a peaceful solution to the conflict in northern Uganda could be achieved and encouraged the Government of Uganda to seek and facilitate such a solution.
In relation to the Darfur region in western Sudan, Ms. Løj said the Council expressed "deep concern" over the situation there, as well as the hope that in light of further deployment of African Union (AU) forces, the overall situation would improve, including for humanitarian workers.
"Worry was also expressed over the situation in Chad as a consequence of the influx of refugees from Darfur," she added, referring to the more than 200,000 Sudanese who fled over the border to escape the two-year long conflict pitting the Government and its allied militias against rebels.
On Togo, she said several members expressed the hope that efforts of the AU and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would be successful and that a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation there could be avoided.
"We held a longer discussion on insufficient funding for humanitarian crises in Africa, and Council members acknowledged the need for prompt and predictable funding and reiterated the Council's strong support for relief efforts in Africa," Ambassador Løj said.
She added that Council members also underlined that in the financing of much needed aid efforts, it was important that the various crises were financed in a balanced manner. The importance of aid workers having access to populations in need was also underlined.
For his part, Mr. Egeland told reporters that the humanitarian community appreciated the opportunity to bring to the Council’s attention the challenges of trying to secure enough resources to help deal with acute humanitarian needs in Africa, as well as problems in gaining access to vulnerable populations there.
“If we get more political attention, more diplomatic pressure on parties, and more resources, many of the worst humanitarian crises in the world that are in Africa can be solved,” he said.
He noted that great progress had been made in Darfur because of the massive investment in the humanitarian programme underway in that region throughout the year, saving hundreds of thousands of lives this year.
“But in general, there is still not enough attention to specific situations elsewhere, where there is still too little investment” Mr. Egeland said, reiterating his warning that without more resources, there would be a break in northern Uganda’s food pipeline by June. “This would mean that rations would have to be cut from the present meagre level and become totally substandard,” he added.
Asked if the rest of the world was discriminating against Africa in terms of providing money humanitarian aid, Mr. Egeland said that the discrimination was “in-built.” If everyone agreed that every human life had the same value, then the same attention would be paid to northern Uganda as to northern Iraq, or the same attention to Congo as there was to Kosovo, he said.
“That is simply not the case today,” he said. “The majority of our activities in Africa are badly under-funded.”