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UN Appeals to Wealthy Countries for Humanitarian Aid - 2003-11-18

The United Nations is appealing to wealthy nations to donate $3 billion to help humanitarian efforts in the world's hot spots. Seventeen of the 21 regions to benefit from the appeal are in Africa.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the annual appeal, saying the donations will help 45 million people urgently needing humanitarian assistance.

"These 45 million are not a statistic, but real people with real needs," he said. "Most of them are children, women and the elderly. What they hope for and need is not our pity, but our support."

The secretary-general said last year's appeal for $5.1 billion reached only two-thirds of its goal. He said most of the money had gone to Iraq, leaving much of the rest of the world far short of what was needed.

"We must do better, and we must forget no one who depends on us for help and for hope," said Mr. Annan. "If we are able to collect nearly $2 billion for Iraq alone, surely we can raise the $3 billion we are asking for the rest of the world in the next year."

This year, Iraq and Afghanistan have been excluded from the consolidated appeal. Their humanitarian needs will be addressed with other funds.

The largest recipient of this year's fund will be Sudan, which U.N. officials say has the world's largest homeless population. Others among the 17 African recipients include Somalia, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Non-African recipients are North Korea, Tajikistan, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Russian region of Chechnya.