14 February 2006

Every Penny of Aid for Democratic Republic of Congo "Desperately Needed", Says Secretary-General as UN Action Plan Launched in Brussels

NEW YORK, 13 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's video messages for the launch of the United Nations Action Plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Brussels, 13 February:

Today, we are launching a United Nations Action Plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It will cost 681 million dollars, and every penny is desperately needed.

We are talking about a country where 1,200 people die in silence every day from the lingering effects of war.  During six years of armed conflict, almost 4 million people perished.  That makes it the deadliest conflict since World War II.

The country's public health system lies in shambles.  Livelihoods have been destroyed.  Millions have been displaced.  Malnutrition is widespread.

Virtually all of the country's 60 million people have been affected.  We can, and we must, do more to alleviate their suffering.

The Congolese people have demonstrated their faith in the future.  They recently endorsed a new national constitution.  This summer, they are due to vote in their first free elections in 45 years.

But their faith must be backed by tangible support.  The Action Plan before you today offers that support.  It is an ambitious strategy to meet the humanitarian needs of the Congolese people, who are among the most vulnerable people in the world.  If it succeeds, it can also promote stability after the elections.

By working together, we can help the Congolese people build a better future.  Let's ensure that we all play our part to the full.

Thank you very much.

* *** *