Press Releases

     1 December 2005

    Secretary-General Requests Generous Support for 2006 Appeal Aimed at Those most Desperate, Saying "They Need Our Assistance and They Need It Now"

    NEW YORK, 30 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the launch of Humanitarian Appeal 2006 at Headquarters, 30 November:

    I speak to you today on behalf of 31 million victims of calamity in 26 countries.  They desperately need your help.  I am here to seek it.

    Through this Appeal, we ask for $4.7 billion on behalf of people who are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.  They are the survivors of conflicts, natural disasters and often, terrible combinations of the two.

    They are women and children threatened by conflicts in Darfur and the Central African Republic.  They are villagers made homeless by floods and hurricanes in Guatemala, civilians displaced by instability in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, and families lacking food in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.  They live in unimaginable conditions -- with little or no access to health care, clean water, food, shelter and other essentials for survival.

    They need our assistance, and they need it now.

    Consolidated Appeals are the international community's most important enabler for humanitarian action.  As my colleague Mar Dieye [Humanitarian Coordinator of Côte d'Ivoire] explained just moments ago, these appeals are not documents prepared at UN Headquarters.  Each appeal reflects facts on the ground, where non-governmental organizations, the Red Cross, and United Nations agencies work together to assess needs, determine priorities, and plan a coordinated response.  Each appeal is designed not only to alleviate immediate suffering, but also to identify and address longer-term needs.  Each appeal this year, for the first time, includes projects by non-governmental organizations, as well as UN agency initiatives.

    The past year has been a terrible one for victims of natural disasters.  Yet it also demonstrated our tremendous capacity for giving.  Donor nations -- and their citizens -- responded generously to the Indian Ocean tsunami and to hurricanes in the Americas.  This Humanitarian Appeal is an opportunity, which must not be missed, to extend that generosity to people whose plight may not capture the world's attention, but whose suffering is no less tragic.

    In a world of plenty, their continued suffering is a terrible stain on our conscience.  Many of these people feel forgotten.  Victims not only of terrible calamities, but also of a world in which suffering must be beamed into our living rooms, or located in areas of strategic importance, to pry open pocketbooks.

    We are better than that.  Today, let us send a message to these people that, though they may be largely unseen, they are by no means forgotten.  Let us send them hope, a real message of hope.

    Suffering of this kind anywhere is a threat to humanity everywhere.  Of course, we may never eliminate suffering completely, for such is the human condition.  Yet it is inexcusable that we not strive, with every resource at our disposal, to do so.

    If ultimate success eludes us, then let the struggle define us.

    The amount we seek today, while by no means insignificant, is not large for the tasks at hand.  Indeed, it is less than what the world spends every 48 hours on its militaries.  Two days of military spending against a year's worth of life-saving humanitarian assistance.  For 31 million people!

    Clearly, we have the capacity to pay.  Today, we must display the will, the will to do so.

    And we must do so urgently.  Historically, approximately 68 per cent of the Consolidated Appeals have been funded.  Only one tenth of funding has been contributed in the first quarter of each year.  And there has been great disparity in funding among different crises.

    Delayed and incomplete funding unnecessarily prolongs suffering, as we heard earlier from our Norwegian colleague.  It costs lives.  Because of incomplete funding, aid agencies cannot provide victims the assistance necessary to start anew.  Inadequately funded appeals may perpetuate dependency by allowing some emergency handouts, but not the more holistic assistance necessary to rebuild lives.

    That is why the United Nations has proposed a Global Emergency Fund to support immediate relief work whenever crisis strikes.  Together with this Appeal, the Fund will ensure that we do more, and more sooner.

    Your generous support today will save lives.  By minimizing the need for larger follow-on requests, it will also save money.

    It makes financial sense.  And it is morally right.

    To encourage early giving, the United Nations is inviting donor States to Geneva in early January 2006.  The gathering will be an opportunity for donors to lay out their priorities and funding goals for the year.

    At the recent World Summit in New York, the Member States affirmed the right of all people, in particular the vulnerable, to live free from want with the opportunity to fully develop their human potential.

    They called for more timely and predictable humanitarian funding.

    They called for developing stand-by capacities, under United Nations auspices, for timely response to humanitarian emergencies.

    They called for strengthened coordination within the humanitarian community.

    Today is an occasion for donor countries to answer that call.

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