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UN Multi-Billion Dollar Appeal For Countries In Crisis Underfunded


The United Nations reports less than half of its $4.4 billion appeal has been received, six months after it was launched on behalf of 19 countries in crisis. The United Nations says lack of money is hampering the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in the world. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Sixteen of the 19 countries in crisis are in Africa. The United Nations says countries such as Ivory Coast, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville are only 33 percent funded. And, even the Palestinian Territories, one of the world's highest profile areas, has received only 29 percent of what it needs.

As a consequence, U.N. officials say a number of urgent humanitarian programs had to be suspended. And, in regions emerging from conflict, such as the Great Lakes and West Africa, they say money often is not available to support projects that would help them transition to peace and development.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, says one fortunate exception is Burundi, which has been chronically underfunded in the past. He says the situation there is improving as it moves toward early recovery and development.

"Burundi this year is on top of the funding chart for funding at this stage of the year, with 62 percent of its overall requirements met," said Holmes. "We also have a situation in Chad, which is 60 percent funded which is actually pretty good for this stage of the year."

"Although, even there, I would say that given the difficulties that there are and the worsening IDP [internally displaced persons] crisis which exists and the continuing problems, the spillover from Darfur and so on, even there, 60 percent is really not enough," he added.

Holmes says donor countries tend to fund their favorite projects to the neglect of others that might be equally important. He says the food sector always attracts a lot of money. But, health, water and shelter do not. He says some way must be found to spread the money out more evenly.

He says all 19 crises are worthy of support. But, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one that should command special attention. He says the DRC is an enormous country with enormous needs. And, years of conflict have plunged the population into depths of desperation.

"For example, the rapes and sexual violence are truly horrifying, where the humanitarian consequences of renewed fighting, if that is what we get in the East, I hope we do not, but, we cannot exclude it, would be again catastrophic," said Holmes.

"Whether the death rates are very high for all sorts of reasons. So, I think that is the one that I would perhaps single out. I think Chad, although it is reasonably well funded is a situation I am particularly worried about. The Central African Republic too. But, also Somalia," he continued.

Holmes says Somalia is burdened with newly displaced people as well as tens of thousands of long-standing homeless people. He says recurrent floods and drought also add to the peoples' misery. And, the lack of a political structure, he says, makes Somalia a dangerous place and prevents aid workers from reaching the needy.

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