Annan calls for doubling of aid to $15 million for torture victims worldwide

14 September 2005

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked donor societies and governments to more than double their contributions for assisting torture victims and their families to $15 million in 2006, in his latest report on the subject to the General Assembly.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked donor societies and governments to more than double their contributions for assisting torture victims and their families to $15 million in 2006, in his latest report on the subject to the General Assembly.

Mr. Annan also calls on donors to make their payments sooner, so that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could manage their operations better, reflecting a fundamental change in the way the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture will provide monies to NGOs that assist torture victims.

The Fund, which was established in 1981 and provides grants to NGOs to assist torture victims and their relatives, is administered thorough the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and a board of trustees appointed by the Secretary General. CAPS/Lima, in Peru, the Rwanda Women's Community Development Network in Rwanda, and Mandela Institute for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestine Territories are just a few of the almost 200 NGOs that have received money through the Fund.

Organizations receiving money from the Fund provide medical, social and psychological assistance to torture victims, which could include direct medical and psychological help, social and financial reintegration through vocational training, and legal assistance to secure compensation for victims and their families.

The report shows that the United States and other Western nations are big donors, contributing 98.4 per cent of the fund. As a geographical group, they also only received 63 per cent of the grant monies, while Latin America and Eastern Europe each contributed 0.4 per cent, and received 13 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, says the report.

This discrepancy is partly due to the fact that more than half the grants made to Western countries were made to asylum-seekers from other geographic regions (outside of the Western countries). Generally in assigning grants, "Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean are given priority," says the report. But possible geographical bias should be corrected, and the board recommended that the secretariat "be more proactive in identifying organizations in developing countries, in particular in Africa, that might merit funding."

The Fund will also be examining more strategies to raise money, says Mr. Annan, including the publication of a book due to be release in June 2006 which will highlight aspects of the Fund's activities since its inception 25 years ago. Further, it will strengthen its management and communications systems to better manage the Fund and its activities.