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UN Launches Another Appeal for Tsunami Relief

The United Nations is appealing for an additional $110 million to cover rehabilitation operations for Indian Ocean tsunami victims until the end of the year. The United Nations says it now is entering the difficult transition period from emergency relief activities to longer-term recovery and reconstruction needs.

The U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland calls the just-completed emergency phase extraordinarily effective. He says no major outbreaks of disease occurred in the tsunami-devastated regions thanks to the rapid provision of emergency health care, water, and sanitation,

He says around two million people have received food aid, hundreds of thousands of displaced children are back in school, and aid workers have prevented human rights abuse, including the trafficking of women and children.

But, Mr. Egeland admits shortcomings in a number of areas. He says there is growing frustration among people who still have no proper housing or jobs. He says he expects the transition period from emergency to development assistance to be very difficult

The U.N. Relief Official says sorting out questions involving land tenure and property rights will be the most problematic.

"Those archives which were there before were swept away in many cases," he said. "Some people have competing claims to the same land. In other places, vulnerable fishing communities feel that they are being marginalized and pressured out by land owners who want to extend their claims to new areas, especially those areas which could be used in the tourist industry."

Mr. Egeland says it is critical to ensure the human rights of vulnerable and displaced people are respected and that they not lose the land upon which their families may have lived for generations.

The Indian Ocean tsunami which struck December 26 killed an estimated 300,000 people and rendered millions homeless. This catastrophe generated an enormous outpouring of money from governments and private sources around the world. The United Nations which, appealed for nearly $1 billion received 80 percent of that.

While praising this unprecedented generosity, Mr. Egeland notes other so-called forgotten and neglected emergencies have received practically nothing.

"We are getting actually money in very meager quantities to African emergencies and other places where people are even much worse off than they are at the Indian Ocean beaches," he said. "Altogether, we have only received about nine percent as of today of what we need for those emergencies."

Mr. Egeland says a U.N. appeal for $1.7 billion for some 14 countries has received only $168 million.

He says Ivory Coast, which is one of the world's worst crises, has received essentially nothing. He says Chad has received only one percent of its needs. He says he finds this particularly surprising as the appeal includes emergency relief for an estimated 200,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled the war in Darfur.