Six weeks ago, the UN launched its Humanitarian Appeal 2008 – ten consolidated appeals for specific emergencies – seeking $3.8 billion to assist 25 million people in two dozen countries. To date, only one per cent of the funds requested has been raised.
“We are here today on behalf of people the world has all too often forgotten: the weak, the disadvantaged, those suffering the effects of climate change, violence, disaster and disease,” Mr. Ban told those gathered in Geneva for the “programme kick-off” for the Appeal.
“The people we seek to help are among the world’s ‘bottom billion’ trying to survive on less than a dollar a day, amid chaos and wrenching inequality,” the Secretary-General noted, adding that for them, humanitarian funds “mark the difference between life and death.”
Urging donors to “act now,” Mr. Ban pointed out that early funding enables agencies to start programmes on schedule so that assistance arrives quickly and continues as needed.
Funding delays, on the other hand, only add to costs in the long run as conditions spiral downwards. “And these costs include precious lives lost – a price too terrible to pay,” he stressed.
The Appeal, launched on 10 December by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, seeks funding for crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Uganda, West Africa, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and the occupied Palestinian territory.
Some 188 organizations – including UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international organizations – come together through the Appeal to meet the world’s major humanitarian challenges in a strategic, coordinated, effective and prioritized way.
“Humanitarian aid is everyone’s responsibility,” Mr. Holmes stressed today. “I hope that 2008 will see a much greater embrace of humanitarian assistance by the world community, including from developing and middle income countries.”