27 November 2001


NEW YORK, 26 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of today’s address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to launch the 2002 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals:

It is a pleasure to be with you today to launch the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals for the year 2002. We are making these appeals on behalf of people who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

Today, the world’s eyes are on Afghanistan and the plight of its long-suffering people. But just three months ago, before the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the people of Afghanistan faced a humanitarian disaster of mass proportions, caused by continuing civil strife and yet another year of drought. The Afghans -– along with more than 30 million war- and drought-affected people around the world -– would have suffered through yet another winter, largely off camera.

Is it not ironic that it took a terrorist attack and military action to raise awareness of the vast humanitarian needs in Afghanistan? If 11 September has taught us one thing, it is that festering conflicts -– although far from our television screens –- will not go away. Indeed, they may nurture the despair and hopelessness that can breed further violence.

I welcome the donors’ efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people. Certainly, one of our priorities in this must be to address the plight of women, whose treatment in the past several years has been an affront to all standards of dignity, equality and humanity. They must have a chance to play their rightful role in leadership and decision-making. Indeed, as we have seen in many parts of the world, empowering women benefits their families and their communities, too.

But there are 17 other complex humanitarian crises identified in these appeals, and I urge you to forget none of them.

The 33 million people worldwide, to whom I lend my voice today, are the survivors of conflicts, natural disasters and often, terrible combinations of the two.

They are women, children and men who have been forced to flee their homes and their communities, and who have lost almost everything but the hope that somewhere, somehow, they will find a helping hand to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

They live in unimaginable conditions -- with little or no access to health care, clean water, food, shelter and other essentials for survival.

They have been traumatized, their lives turned upside down.

We are here today to show our solidarity with them, and to give them a chance to survive and make a new start.

Millions of vulnerable civilians continue to bear the brunt of the pain caused by conflict. Many have suffered for a generation.

In Angola, Somalia and Sudan, long-running civil wars continue to threaten already fragile livelihoods. In Indonesia, 1.3 million people have become internally displaced in less than three years because of new internal conflicts. Although the past year has brought new hope for the future in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, massive humanitarian assistance remains urgently needed.

The Consolidated Appeals Process is designed to give life-saving and life-sustaining support. It has evolved in recent years from a joint fund-raising process into an instrument for analysis, planning, and common action by United Nations agencies and other partners, including host governments, the Red Cross Movement and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Through the Consolidated Appeals Process, the quality and accountability of humanitarian programmes are improved so that we can:

-- reach people who are most in need;

-- ensure that food is not provided without safe water to prepare it, and that other necessities for survival, including vaccinations against killer diseases are not forgotten;

-- and ensure that meeting urgent needs today does not compromise the capacity of a community to help itself when the immediate crisis has passed.

The theme of the Consolidated Appeals for 2002 is "Reaching the Vulnerable", highlighting the need for access to civilians trapped by armed conflict, and for improved security for relief personnel.

In the past year, the number of deliberate attacks on United Nations staff again grew dramatically. Therefore I must stress yet again that the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians, and for safe and unhindered access to them, lies with host governments and the parties to a conflict.

Humanitarian assistance is impartial; it seeks only to help people in need. Attacks against convoys and humanitarian workers must stop. Member States and warring parties must be held accountable when relief workers are killed. Since 1992, more than 200 United Nations civilian staff lost their lives, and many more were taken hostage or kidnapped. And the casualties among our NGO partners were even more important. I ask you to help us put an end to the culture of impunity.

And let me appeal once again to Member States to support us in our efforts to strengthen our own security regime.

Friends -- no matter how good our strategy, or how well we prioritize, the United Nations and its partners cannot fulfil their commitments to millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance without the financial and political support of the Member States.

Yet the sad fact is that for the current year the Consolidated Appeals have received barely 50 per cent of the amount required. We must do better next year. And I repeat my appeal that we should forget no one who depends on us for help and hope.

The international community has a duty to provide life-saving assistance not only on the basis of which situation draws media attention, but also on the basis of agreed, definable minimum needs, as outlined in today’s appeals.

The 2.5 billion dollars that we are seeking today is a large amount. But, as I say every year, it is far less than what the world spends on military purposes in a single day. So I ask you once again to respond swiftly and generously to our appeals.

Together we can save lives, alleviate suffering and despair, and give new hope to more than 33 million people. Your generosity, in keeping with the appeals launched here today, can help us to reach the vulnerable.

Thank you very much.

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