Arriving in Geneva to chair a meeting on disaster mitigation, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today announced the launch of a "first of its kind" website to track funds pledged to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, while urging that more attention be given to the world's neglected humanitarian emergencies.
Speaking to journalists, Jan Egeland said the new web page, accessible through www.reliefweb.int, would contain updated information on all tsunami-related pledges received and dispersed. He said he hoped that similar Internet-based real-time reporting would also be used to account for the large sums expected to be received for recovery and development efforts.
"I said very early on," recalling the generous response to the tsunami appeal, "that this unprecedented generosity should be met by unprecedented transparency in how the money is spent, when it is spent, where it is spent, so that those who contributed know where we spend our money."
The bad news, he continued, was that donations for some other crises had slowed. He pointed in particular to low responses to appeals for the Central African Republic, Djibouti and Somalia, which were suffering some of the highest child mortality rates in the world.
Mr. Egeland also drew attention to the food security crisis in Niger, where a locust invasion had been followed by severe drought. Of the country's 12 million inhabitants, 3.6 million were endangered. Calling Niger perhaps "the number one forgotten and neglected emergency," he said that an appeal for $16.2 million last week drew absolutely no commitments.
Concerned that 90 per cent of the world's attention was focused on 10 per cent of the world's disasters and wars, he noted that five times more money than had been requested for all the forgotten emergencies combined was spent annually in Europe on ice cream, and that an amount equal to the UN's combined humanitarian appeals was spent each year in North America on chewing gum.