|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives|
Benn Calls For Immediate Aid For Africa Food Crisis From New Humanitarian Fund
Press Release - Department for International Development
New York, US, March 10, 2006 – Money from the multi-million dollar humanitarian crisis fund launched today (Thursday) by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, should be released immediately to help save lives in the growing food crises in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, Hilary Benn, UK International Development Secretary, will urge the UN in New York today.
The UN’s new Central Emergency Response Fund - which Mr. Benn has campaigned for - is designed to provide a faster source of funding to agencies dealing with humanitarian crises. He will say:
“Until today, every time disaster strikes, the UN has had to appeal to the world for donations. This takes too long and costs lives. And all too often, as we have seen with the tragedies in Darfur and Niger, it takes the media’s spotlight to prompt countries to pledge funds.
“Now, with this new single source of rapid funding, there should be less forgotten crises and less focus on passing around the begging bowl when crises do strike, so saving time and people’s lives.
“Today there is a crisis happening in Africa. Millions of people are facing starvation in northern Kenya and the Horn of Africa due to the worst drought in years. They need our help and this is exactly why the fund was created. Let’s use it.
“The UK has already provided direct support in response to this food crisis, over £35 million so far, but the international community needs to step in now. This is the first test for our new humanitarian crisis fund and I urge the UN to deliver.”
Hilary Benn will welcome the support shown by the countries that have contributed . He will confirm the UK’s commitment to contribute $70 million (£40 million) a year, every year to the fund. So far, at least twenty-two countries have pledged funding totaling $193 million. The UK’s commitment is the largest single sum, but many donor countries have yet to make a pledge. He will urge these ‘missing donors’ to step forward and contribute.
The CERF, which was agreed by UN resolution on 15 December, becomes operational immediately and will deliver grant-aid fast - within 72 hours instead of weeks – to those that need it. The UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator will be able to allocate these funds to where they are most needed.
Getting the money to the right place at the right time is only part of the solution. During his visit, Hilary Benn will press for further reform of the UN humanitarian system to:
ensure aid is delivered effectively by attracting the best people to become humanitarian coordinators with the authority to do their job;
better assess the needs of those who require humanitarian aid and how they’re being met;
invest more in the prevention of disasters and ensure we are all prepared if they strike.
Source: Harold Doan & Associates Ltd