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The BBC's Claire Doole in Geneva: "The UN is concerned that African projects could be losing out to the Balkans again."
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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 10:25 GMT
Appeal for 'forgotten emergencies'
Appeals for African countries have been severely under-subscribed

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed for $2.33bn to provide humanitarian aid to more than a dozen countries, including many of the world's "forgotten emergencies".

The money would help some 34 million people to survive in conflict zones, from Afghanistan to Uganda.

"For the millions of souls who have been through the nightmare and need our help to dare to dream again - I ask you today to send a signal of hope," Mr Annan said.

"The $2.3 billion dollars we are asking you for today is a large figure. But it is far less than what the world spends on military purposes in a single day," Mr Annan told officials from donor countries.

Main Beneficiaries
$660m South-east Europe
$332m North Korea
$258m Angola
$221m Afghanistan
$199m East Timor
$163m Central Africa and Great Lakes region
The appeal came as Mr Annan launched World Humanitarian Day on Tuesday.

The campaign aims to keep little-known crises - many in Africa - from losing out in the competition for donor dollars against high-profile situations in places like Kosovo and East Timor.

"We have a duty to look carefully at the needs of all victims, wherever and whoever they may be, and judge them by the same humanitarian standard," he added.

It is the second year UN agencies have held joint appeals. Participants include the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the organisation's children's fund (Unicef), the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization and the UN Development Programme.

In each country, the lion's share of the money will be spent on food aid. In Angola, $214m of the $258m to be raised is earmarked for food.

Almost a million people in the country have become homeless through war and almost a quarter of the population depends on aid, the UN says.

Another emergency hot spot is Afghanistan where more than 2.5 million people are refugees, according to the UN.

It wants to spend $221m in the country, which has the highest infant mortality rate.

Without intervention, the UN says only a third of Afghans would have access to medical services, meaning more than one in four infants would die.

The appeal comes shortly after the UN imposed sanctions on the Taleban authorities, which control most of Afghanistan.

Neglected causes

Last year, many African countries received very little aid money, as Western countries focused on the Balkans.

Uganda received only 11% of the funds asked for and the Democratic Republic of the Congo only 14%.

The Balkans, by comparison, received more than two-thirds of the requested funding.

This year the UN is asking for almost $660m for food, shelter, health and education in the region.

But it says World Humanitarian Day is about highlighting the ''forgotten emergencies'' where there is little economic, strategic or media interest.

North Korea, Guinea-Bissau, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone are among those least popular with donors.

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See also:
24 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Appeal for aid for Afghanistan
01 Nov 99 |  Africa
Disease hits Angola's war zone
24 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Afghan ceasefire urged for polio campaign
16 Oct 99 |  World
UN plea to protect aid workers
12 Aug 99 |  Africa
UN issues urgent Africa appeal

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