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UN urges early funding for 2007 Humanitarian Appeal to provide aid before it is too late

UN urges early funding for 2007 Humanitarian Appeal to provide aid before it is too late

Stressing the vital need for early funding so that aid can reach those in need before it is too late, United Nations officials today hosted a "Programme Kick-off" to drum up support for this year's $3.9 billion humanitarian appeal, for which only 0.2 per cent has so far been covered.

"It may seem still early in the year to some, but people struggling to survive in Chad, Somalia, Zimbabwe, cannot wait," UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) local director Kasidis Rochanakorn told the meeting in Geneva.

Today's event provides donors with a key opportunity to share feedback on the individual, country-specific appeals included within the 2007 Humanitarian Appeal involving UN agencies and some 140 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as other international and local organizations.

"What we request is only a few cents for every hundred dollars of national income," Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Acting Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström said. "If some of the biggest economies improve their performance even partway to the level of the best, humanitarian action worldwide could be fully funded."

Early funding is crucial for humanitarian agencies to be able to plan and start programmes in order for aid to reach those in need in time. Originally launched in November by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Humanitarian Appeal 2007 comprises 13 country-specific consolidated appeals totalling $3.9 billion to address the urgent needs of 27 million people affected by crises in 29 countries.

Aid to African countries dominates the appeal, with operations in Sudan requiring over $1.2 billion, the highest amount. The appeal seeks funding for the following crises: Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the occupied Palestinian territory, West Africa, Uganda, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Burundi, the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo.

Overall, it seeks to help 27 million people in 29 countries. "For 2007, such assistance amounts to $3.9 billion for basic life-sustaining humanitarian aid and protection - or approximately the same price as two cups of coffee for each citizen in the wealthy countries of the world," Mr. Annan said at November's launch.

Also attending today's event were UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan; Toni Frisch, Assistant Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Head of the Humanitarian Aid Department; and Toby Porter, Emergencies Director for Save the Children-UK.