UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
AFRICA: Annan stresses "hope of millions" at appeals launch
NAIROBI, 23 November (IRIN) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stressed that the needs and vulnerability of affected people in Africa are greater than almost anywhere in the world.
Speaking at the launch of the UN's humanitarian consolidated appeals for 2000 in Geneva on Tuesday, Annan said he was asking for US $2.4 billion to sustain the "hope of millions" worldwide.
The "forgotten people", some 34 million worldwide, of whom 20 million are in Africa, are in need of urgent humanitarian help. Africa's portion of the appeal is US $875 million.
"Failure in the duty to help the victims of these crises will take away the hope of millions of people," Annan said. "The scale of the needs and the vulnerability of those affected in Africa are greater than those almost anywhere in the world. Lack of response to an appeal in Africa is virtually certain prescription for more deaths."
The appeals are part of a global fund-raising initiative, but also aim to "shape and guide humanitarian interventions in a collaborative assistance programme". European aid officials told IRIN that the consolidated appeals - which result from consultations with NGOs and other humanitarian actors as well as UN in-house analysis - represent a useful coordination mechanism. "We want the UN to work together...you need to look at the situation as a whole," one official said.
The UN's Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), by which donors are presented with a package of prioritised projects to consider, is a relatively new approach.
In the past, individual agency appeals "used to be shopping lists", another donor official told IRIN. Welcoming the analytical sections of the documents, he said "now you get a description of the situation in a wider context".
In each emergency situation, 10 or more UN agencies have agreed on a common approach, and established priority programmes. Donors and analysts privately acknowledge, however, that funding decisions are not always made on an empirical consideration of need. "Humanitarian aid is used as a foreign policy tool...it's our politicians who have the last say," a donor official said.
Peter Walker, director of disaster policy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, argues that mounting humanitarian needs in the world are not being matched by increases in donor funding. Walker's statistics suggest that humanitarian aid peaked in 1994 at about US $3.5 billion. But, he told IRIN, "these sorts of emergencies are here to stay", and the Federation's own budget needs were at the highest level since the Second World War.
The system of international humanitarian relief needs to be rethought, Walker said. "If you had a road traffic accident and you started rattling the tin for fuel for the ambulance, you'd be laughed out of town." While welcoming the UN's attempt to highlight the "forgotten emergencies", he said a new international safety net was needed. Rather than reacting to needs every year, he suggested there was a "predictable need" for humanitarian aid and disasters should no longer be regarded as "blips on the development curve".
Other emergencies in Afghanistan, North Korea, East Timor, Tajikistan and Europe were also highlighted at the Geneva launch. While donors are competitive in responding to high-profile disasters like earthquakes, "in Africa, there is no competition, unfortunately", said a western donor.
World Vision communications expert Jacob Akol told IRIN that in his experience, "donor fatigue" was an overused expression, but he said that without "pictures of people actually dying", it was increasingly hard to get a response. He stressed the key role of the media, and television in particular, in mobilising resources. But in a "terribly vicious cycle", he claimed, "by the time you get to the donor, many people have died. I've seen it over and over again."
The African appeals for 2000 are about nine percent higher than last year's appeals which totalled US $802 million. Only about 59 percent of that figure had been met by late October, according to OCHA figures.
The figures for each African appeal are as follows: Angola: US $ 259 million; Burundi: US $71; DRC: US $71 million; Great Lakes and Central Africa: US $103 million; Republic of Congo: US $17 million; Sierra Leone: US $63 million; Somalia: US $51 million; Sudan: US $126 million; Uganda: US $56 million; Tanzania: US $60 million.
Full details of the UN appeals for 2000 are available on the web at: http://www.reliefweb.int/appeals/index.html.
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