UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

UN launches largest-ever humanitarian appeal for 2009

UNICEF Image: Hilde Johnson
© United Nations/2008/Ferre
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson speaks at the launch of the UN humanitarian appeal for 2009 in Geneva.

By Tim Ledwith

NEW YORK, USA, 19 November 2008 – Donors, civil society groups and non-governmental organizations gathered in Geneva today for the launch of the UN’s 2009 Consolidated Appeal, or CAP, for humanitarian aid.

It is the world body’s largest-ever annual humanitarian appeal, seeking urgent aid for 30 million people in 31 countries.

“The 2009 appeal, totalling $7 billion altogether – 40 per cent more than at the comparable time in 2008 – offers concrete help to these people in need,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.

Life-saving assistance

Among other goals, the appeal seeks funding to:

  • Feed 2.3 million people affected by conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Deliver life-saving help to 4.5 million people in the Darfur region of Sudan
  • Provide protection and assistance to 1 million refugees and displaced people in eastern Chad
  • Support millions displaced inside and outside Iraq
  • Provide water, medicines, shelter and emergency schooling to 3 million conflict-affected Somalis
  • Help give critical support to 1.5 million Palestinians without basic services in the Occupied Territory.

“To put the $7 billion we are appealing for into perspective,” said Mr. Holmes, “contrast it with the sums that have been committed by governments in recent months to stabilize the banking system. We ask for less than a hundredth as much.”

UNICEF Image: UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes
© United Nations/2008/Ferre
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes details the $7 billion appeal covering urgent needs in 31 countries.

Effects of armed conflict

In her presentation at the CAP launch, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson highlighted the situation facing women and children affected by conflicts around the world.

During the last decade, millions of children have been killed, disabled or seriously injured, she said, and child soldiers – boys and girls under the age of 18 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide.

Ms. Johnson went on to discuss the massive wave of displacement caused by the most recent round of fighting in eastern DR Congo, as well as the problem of child recruitment by armed groups there.

“UNICEF has protected 44,000 children in child-friendly spaces and demobilized 2,500, but this is not enough,” she said. “Many of the children are abducted or forcibly recruited. Others join to protect their families, or just to eat.”

Political engagement and resources

Beyond meeting the needs of children and families caught in conflict, the UN appeal aims to support the survival and well-being of those affected by natural disasters. More than half of the 829 emergencies to which UNICEF responded between 2005 and 2007 were natural disasters, as opposed to armed conflicts.

Ms. Johnson pointed out that the number and severity of such events have steadily increased in recent decades. In the past few months alone, for example, major storms and floods struck Haiti and Cuba, and a large earthquake hit Pakistan – among other disasters around the globe.

To respond rapidly and effectively to all of these challenges, Ms. Johnson noted, UN agencies and their humanitarian partners need both political engagement and resources from the international community, including adequate funding for the 2009 humanitarian appeal.

“We truly appreciate every dollar we receive – it helps us protect children,” she said. “With the crises we now face, support and financing of this important appeal is even more imperative.”



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