3 April 2006

UN Dedicates $1.7 Million from New Global Emergency Fund to Horn of Africa

NEW YORK, 31 March (OCHA) -- The United Nations has now granted just over $1.7 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to the World Health Organization (WHO) for urgent, life-saving programmes in the Horn of Africa.

With this disbursement for the drought-stricken region, WHO and partners will work to strengthen immunization campaigns, epidemiological surveillance and training of health professionals in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, in order to reduce suffering and death from the crisis.  The individual disbursements per country amount to $70,000 for Djibouti, $450,000 for Eritrea, $350,000 for Ethiopia, $430,000 for Kenya, and $404,540 for Somalia.

"When we think of life-saving aid, vaccinations are often the first thing that comes to mind.  In major emergencies such as the drought now affecting East Africa, diseases that cost less than one dollar to prevent, kill," stated Margareta Wahlström, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.  "Immediate funding for immunizations and surveillance will help us prevent unnecessary deaths."

The allocation of CERF funds for WHO's projects in East Africa is part of the United Nations and the wider humanitarian community's response to the crisis.  Additional CERF disbursements for East Africa are currently under consideration.  The United Nations will launch a consolidated appeal for emergency humanitarian funding for the drought-stricken region on 7 April, in Nairobi.

The $1.7 million grant to WHO is the second disbursement to be made from the new CERF's grant-giving mechanism.  The first grant -- $200,000 for the WHO in Côte d'Ivoire -- is being used to improve immunizations for children under five, young girls and women; provide basic health care, including by providing essential medicines and other materials; and reinforce epidemiological surveillance.  Applications to CERF for protection, food and clean drinking water activities in western Côte d'Ivoire are also being considered.

At the end of the first quarter of 2006, $254,277,611 has been pledged to CERF, by 39 Member States, Japan's Hyogo Prefecture and the Disaster Resource Network.  At the time of the 9 March launch, the Governments of Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Grenada, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States had made voluntary contributions to CERF.  Since then, Azerbaijan, Djibouti and Poland have pledged their support to the new global emergency fund.

For additional information, please contact:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York:  +1 917 367 5126, +1 917 892 1679 (mobile); Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York:  +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva:  +41 22 917 2653; +41 79 473 4570 (mobile).

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