Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

2004 UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals
AM Meeting
18 November 2003


Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the 2004 annual Appeal on behalf of United Nations humanitarian agencies at Headquarters today, calling for $3 billion to save lives in 21 of the world’s most serious crises, an amount that he said, should be viewed in the context of the nearly $2 billion received for Iraq alone this year.

The annual appeal is a product of the United Nations-led Consolidated Appeals Process, which builds strategic and co-ordinated responses to the humanitarian consequences of crises.  Other launch events will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, 19 November, in six other donor capitals:  Geneva, Brussels, Copenhagen, Ottawa, Washington and Dublin.  Events will also be held locally in each affected country for which there is an appeal.  The theme of this year’s launch is “Hear our Voices”.

Continuing, the Secretary-General said the Consolidated Appeals for the current year had so far received only 66 per cent of the amount required.  Even that figure was misleading, because the funding levels had been uneven.  The amount requested for Iraq had been more than a third of the total appeals and 91 per cent of it had been met.  For Burundi, only 28 per cent of the amount requested had been met, while for Liberia only 24 per cent.

The $3 billion requested would address crises ranging from Chechnya to Africa to the Middle East, he added.  The amount was the equivalent of little more than $3 a person in donor countries -- “the cost of a magazine or two cups of coffee”.  In addition, the aid was not charity but a right.  Victims of disasters had a right to have their basic needs met, while those who could help had a moral responsibility to do so.  Any person would expect such assistance, and would consider it a right, if they were in the dire situation of those on whose behalf the appeal was made.

No one should die for lack of food and medicines available in surplus elsewhere, he concluded.  People had been seen to respond generously when hungry children were shown on television.  Yet, the world’s most serious crises happened far from the cameras.  And even once a crisis was over, they needed support during the critical transition period leading to peace and development.

Moderating the event was Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  He said the Consolidated Appeals Process was helping people survive and rebuild destroyed societies.  It needed generous funding from more States and donors.  After all, despite increasing needs, funding levels were remaining stagnant.  Additionally, assistance amounts were uneven, with high-profile cases, like Iraq, receiving more money than low-profile ones, such as the Central African Republic.  Forgotten emergencies should not be allowed to remain forgotten, he said.

Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins, Permanent Representative of Angola, speaking in his capacity as President of the Security Council, highlighted current threats to the safety of humanitarian workers.  The Council had, therefore, adopted a resolution calling for an end to impunity for those who harmed aid workers or impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance.  Without the Appeals Process, the conditions of people living in conflict situations would be much worse.  His own country had benefited greatly from the Process, both during and after its bitter conflict.  It had helped people regain control of their lives, and had put them on the path towards self-sufficiency.

Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the demands for humanitarian aid on behalf of 45 million people worldwide were modest, because populations and countries were meant to graduate from the humanitarian assistance column and return to the one for development assistance.  In that regard, the transition components included in the Appeals Process were key.  Those included the restoring of basic services, reconnecting people with former jobs, demining, and carrying out demobilization and reintegration programmes.  Also, resources were allocated for skills training programmes for youth who had missed out on years of development.  Today’s launch was not about asking for permanent welfare checks.  Rather, it was about strategically moving countries from relief to rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Liberia’s representative said his country was trying to bring itself out of conflict and lacked the internal resources to do so.  With the international community’s help and the removal of sanctions, it could teach its children and give its people the jobs to restore the country.  Much had happened to hurt Liberia in the past, but the past must not colour the future of Liberia for anyone.  Liberians must use the assistance to empower the country, so it would not have to appeal again.

Canada’s representative said this year’s theme of “Hear our Voices” represented the new approach to humanitarian assistance that emphasized the need to support the empowerment of societies to help themselves.  Her country would be holding a launch event this year and would support the United Nations process for making the Appeals Process a more effective tool.

Continuing, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said impartiality should be a foundation of humanitarian assistance.  Yet, assistance seemed to be directed towards those who succeeded in drawing media attention, which was a problem for countries such as his, which had been ignored for many years.  Highlighting the deplorable situation in the eastern part of his country, he encouraged donors to cooperate more frequently with such bodies as the Catholic Church to more adequately provide humanitarian assistance.

The representative of the United States said his Government had consistently been one of the top two donors for chronic emergency cases, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.  Calling the Appeals Process one of Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’s key accomplishments, he said it had been evolving well in development of a common humanitarian plan, cooperation with non-governmental organizations, and emphasis on facilitating the transition from relief to development.

The representative of Netherlands, speaking as the Chairman of the Humanitarian Affairs Working Group, said it was widely recognized that humanitarian assistance had to fill the gap between conflict and development.  Also, he called for meeting the Appeals Process needs, so the Emergency Relief Coordinator wouldn’t need to spend time fundraising.  The European Commission’s representative said his group attached enormous importance to the Appeal as an effective tool for helping donors and those providing relief worked closely together.  He would highlight the crises in the Sudan, Tajikistan and Uganda to the Commission tomorrow.

Mozambique’s representative called for a new humanitarian assistance strategy based on the interrelatedness of man-made and natural disasters, as with regard to infectious diseases.  He said the Appeals Process was a key strategic planning tool to be combined with development goals, which also included attention to preparedness investments in disaster prone areas and a bridging of the funding gap to prevent undoing gains made toward peace and stability.

Italy’s delegate said the Appeals Process served as a fundamental tool for donors assessing needs throughout the world.  His country had contributed $77 million to humanitarian assistance last year.  Ireland’s representative said discussing the Appeals Process was a sobering experience, since the mechanism was a barometer of the scale of human suffering throughout the world.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Sudan, Sweden, Zimbabwe and Norway.

Today’s launch included a video presentation.  Also, numerous speakers paid tribute to United Nations humanitarian personnel, as well as to development partners.

The countries and regions for which the humanitarian community are appealing for support in 2004 are:  Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chechnya and neighbouring Republics of the Russian Federation, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Great Lakes Region, Guinea, Liberia, the occupied Palestinian territories, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Southern Africa Region, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, West Africa and Zimbabwe.

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For information media - not an official record