The United Nations (UN) and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) will join forces to launch an appeal for humanitarian aid on 19 November in Brussels as part of the UN's annual global appeal. The 2004 Humanitarian Appeal calls upon donor nations to provide more than €2.6 billion (US $ 3 billion) in assistance to sustain the lives of more than 45 million civilians affected by 21 of the world's worst crises. The appeal is the result of a process of global needs assessments designed to make the most efficient use of tax-payers' money, and to ensure that aid reaches the people and regions that need it most.
James T. Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme said: “The Brussels launch is part of a worldwide UN effort made in various cities across the globe (New York, Washington, Geneva, Copenhagen, Dublin, Ottawa) to call on donors to fulfil their responsibility to help people in the most desperate need. While there have been recent signs of improvements, funding for humanitarian programmes is still inadequate and unpredictable.” As the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, Mr. Morris is expected to draw attention to the plight of six and a half million people at risk of starvation in the Southern Africa region.
The host of the launch, European Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, Poul Nielson said: “I welcome the opportunity to host the 2004 UN Humanitarian Appeal in Brussels. The European Commission attaches great importance to maintaining an effective partnership with the United Nations. UN agencies implement EU-funded humanitarian aid programmes in a highly professional way, despite increasingly dangerous security conditions in the field. The Commission is committed to contributing substantial amounts of financial assistance (about €125 million each year) to UN bodies involved in humanitarian aid. I am convinced that the best way to help people in need is to work together and pool our resources. The UN appeal is also an occasion to draw attention to 'forgotten' crises that are hardly ever reported in the media, such as the conflict in Northern Uganda.”
The Humanitarian Appeal (known as the CAP Consolidated Appeals Process) brings aid agencies working together to relieve human suffering and to jointly plan their activities for the year ahead. Aid experts produce a common action plan and appeal which is then presented to the international community and donors. The appeal is especially important given the shortage of available funds for humanitarian aid in the face of the many crises around the world. The appeal is an important co-ordination mechanism to increase efficiency, foster closer co-operation between aid agencies and donors and reduce duplication of efforts. It is a necessary tool to ensure that the international community responds to emergency needs in an effective and consistent way.
The chosen theme for this year's event is “Hear our Voices” that is, the voices of the victims and survivors of the world's worst crises. The campaign focuses on the millions of vulnerable people living in crisis zones where help will spell the difference between life and death. There is a special focus on 'forgotten crises' rarely reported in the press and sometimes overlooked by donors. The launch event in Brussels will highlight needs in Sudan, Tajikistan and Uganda. Launches in other cities will focus on other countries.
The Brussels appeal will be hosted by Poul Nielson and presented by James T. Morris. The European Parliament will be represented by Armin Laschet MEP. The Belgian Minister for Development, Marc Verwilghen, will be present to express the solidarity of the donor community with the world's most vulnerable populations and to outline humanitarian financing priorities for 2004. Helmut Lotti, UNICEF Belgium goodwill ambassador and Angelina Atyam, a campaigner for the rights of children in war and chair of the Concerned Parents Association in Uganda will also be present at the Brussels event.