Recent humanitarian appeals for Africa receive much less than
expected, Security Council told
USG Jan Egeland
27 January 2005 – Nearly four-fifths of the recent United Nations
humanitarian appeals have addressed African problems, but the
response has been slow to nearly non-existent, the chief of the UN
humanitarian office told the Security Council today.
"I remember sitting in this very room last summer asking for five
helicopters to save thousands of lives in Darfur (Sudan). In the end
we had to hire helicopters commercially as no Member States were
willing to provide them," Under-Secretary-General Jan Egeland, head
of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA), told the meeting on humanitarian challenges in Africa.
After the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean region on 26
December, he again appealed for helicopters for the Asian countries
affected "and, within days, saw the deployment of several helicopter
carriers," he said.
Some said no quick response would come to the victims of protracted
armed conflicts in Africa, but the international community should
try its hardest, be innovative and quickly build on the response in
the last four weeks to the tsunami disaster, Mr. Egeland said.
While few combatants died last month in the battle in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo's (DRC) North Kivu, the cumulative impact of
the conflicts on Congolese civilians was staggering, with 3.8
million people killed since 1998, he said. "This amounts to the toll
of more than a dozen tsunamis."
In Darfur, "all sides are heavily armed, despite the arms embargo
imposed by the Council last July," he said, severely limiting OCHA's
ability to reach hundreds of thousands of people in need.
In December the UN World Food Programme (WFP) managed to reach 1.5
million people, "a significant achievement, but still 500,000 less
than the target for December," Mr. Egeland said.
In Eritrea some 2.2 million people out of a population of 3.8
million needed food aid, he said, and the maternal malnutrition rate
of 53 per cent was among the highest in the world.
Meanwhile, the response to consolidated appeals for Africa from UN
agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) last year ranged
from 10 per cent for Zimbabwe to less than 40 per cent for the
Central African Republic and Côte d'Ivoire to around 75 per cent for
Sudan, Chad and Uganda, Mr. Egeland noted.
"Without a doubt, the Security Council helped galvanize the
attention and funding we were able to generate for the crises in
Darfur and northern Uganda last year," he said.