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UN Appeals for More Aid from Newly Rich Nations


United Nations officials are calling on newly rich countries to join the more-established donor nations in contributing their fair share to disaster relief.

Jan Egeland, the U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, raised the ire of the Bush Administration last month when he accused wealthy nations of being "stingy" with their initial tsunami relief aid.

On Tuesday, he took aim at what he referred to as the newly rich nations. He called it "strange" that the top 10 or 12 donors today are the same countries that were giving 15 years ago, despite a world economic revolution.

"I expect more international assistance to come from the Asian continent, from the Gulf countries, from Eastern European countries, from central European countries and even from Latin American countries," said Mr. Egeland.

He and other U.N. officials noted that nations overall are contributing on average just two-tenths of one percent of gross national income - far short of the world body's goal of seven-tenths of one percent.

Sitting alongside Mr. Egeland at a news conference here was the director of the U.N.'s inter-agency secretariat for disaster reduction strategy. Salvano Briceno, perhaps doing some public relations disaster control of his own, was quick to single out for praise certain countries that Mr. Egeland appeared to be criticizing.

"China is becoming a major donor, for example, in Africa and Latin America," stated Mr. Briceno. "Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are investing very much in disaster management support in Latin America and the Caribbean. Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico have been supporting the needs of the [Caribbean] islands. South Africa has become a very important donor to other African countries."

The conference hopes to establish new international guidelines for reducing the damage caused by natural disasters. Mr. Egeland on Tuesday asked delegates to approve a resolution that would call on every country to have a strong disaster prevention plan in place within ten years. He says he wants nations to divert ten percent of their emergency relief budgets to disaster prevention.