Mounting crises leaves UN with a $5 bn shortfall

The top United Nations relief official appealed to donors to fill the $5 billion (R36 million) funding gap the world body and its partner agencies face to provide emergency aid to people enduring the most severe humanitarian crises around the world.
Less than half of this year`s $9.5 billion (R68 billion) appeal the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) made to cover relief efforts assisting the world`s most vulnerable people has been funded, stressed UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.
Deteriorating humanitarian situations in hotspots, such as Somalia, the occupied Palestinian territories, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Sudan have led to an upwards revision of Consolidated and Flash Appeals by $1.5 billion (R11 billion) since the start of the year, Holmes told reporters in New York.
He noted that in the DRC, for example, an extra 250 000 people have been driven from their homes this year by the conflict with the FDLR a Rwandan rebel militia operating in the east of the country as well as a campaign of terror inflicted on the population by another armed group in eastern DRC, the Lord`s Resistance Army (LRA).
“Donors actually have been responding remarkably generously and well to these rising needs,” said Holmes, who also acts as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and head of OCHA.
“For example, the $4.6 billion (R33 billion) we had collected in July in response to these needs was the highest ever figure in absolute terms that we collected, and in terms of a percentage of what we`re asking for 49 per cent  it was also the highest ever,” he said.
“Nevertheless, that figure still leaves $4.8 billion (R35 billion) worth of needs unmet, which is also the highest ever unmet demand we`ve had at this time of year,” stressed Mr. Holmes.
Mr. Holmes also pointed to deteriorating non-conflict related crises, such as the intense droughts and floods affecting various parts of the world, including countries in the Horn of Africa facing several years of failed rains.
Poor rains in Eastern African have produced crises in the areas of food, nutrition, water and disease among others, leaving some 24 million people in need of aid up from 17 million last year in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and parts of Uganda.
“That`s another powerful reason why we`ve been arguing that a climate change deal in Copenhagen is so essential,” he said referring to the UN conference in December that will be seeking a successor greenhouse gas reduction pact to the Kyoto Protocol.
“Because we think those trends are bound to intensify, in fact they will intensify.”

Pic: UN logo