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United Nations appeal covers 18 crisis countries and regions

FAO seeks funds to rehabilitate agriculture

FAO is appealing for $10 million to provide emergency assistance to food-insecure farm families in Afghanistan (FAO/Photo)

The United Nations humanitarian organizations are appealing for US$2.5 billion to help 33 million people made vulnerable by conflict across the world. The UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals (CAPs) for 2002 were launched by the UN Secretary General on 26 November in New York, as well as in seven donor capitals and in Geneva. The theme of this year's appeals is "Reaching the Vulnerable".

The launch event in Tokyo featured the launch of a special donor alert for Afghanistan. The UN is seeking over US$650 million to undertake immediate relief and rehabilitation interventions of that war-shattered country.

The CAPs, which are launched annually under the guidance of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reflect the strategies and funding requirements of the UN and its partners to respond to humanitarian crises. All of the 18 countries or regions covered by the 2002 CAPs have been affected by conflict, and the appeals are aimed at saving lives, restoring stability and linking relief with sustainable development by working with the most vulnerable people. "Without protecting the vulnerable," says the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, "our peace initiatives will be both fragile and illusory."

The countries and regions targeted for 2002 are: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Guinea, Indonesia, Liberia, the Northern Caucasus (Russian Federation), Sierra Leone, Somalia, Southeastern Europe, Sudan, Tajikistan and Uganda.

Reaching the most vulnerable

The theme of this year's appeals highlights the plight of civilians caught behind the front lines in war zones, most of whom are women, children, old people and those crippled by disease or war, who are denied basic rights, including the right to food. Their situation is made worse by the fact that, in todayís wars and internal conflicts, civilians are often targeted as part of a political and military strategy.

Conflict leads to displacement and a deepening of food insecurity as fields are not planted, crops lie unharvested or are deliberately destroyed and livestock are looted, killed or sold off to pay for food or safe passage through a war zone.

"Hungry people are vulnerable people," says Anne M. Bauer, Chief of FAOís Special Relief Operations.

Vulnerability of people or communities, she continues, can be identified and measured by a series of indicators, such as access to food, the number of refugees or internally displaced people. "But the bottom line is that vulnerability increases in direct proportion to decreased food security."

FAOís role at the heart of long-term development

Coordination is key to the success of the CAP, and FAO is playing its role in providing this through its Emergency Agriculture Coordination Unit in the countries affected by crisis. This unit coordinates the overall distribution of agricultural inputs to avoid gaps and overlaps, and monitors and assesses the agricultural needs in the country.

This year, FAO is appealing for a total of approximately US$113 million to help the vulnerable populations of the countries covered by the Consolidated Appeals. Through the Special Relief Operations Service, the FAO provides immediate emergency agricultural assistance such as seeds, tools, fertilizer, and veterinary supplies. FAO also assists by providing technical advice on issues such as seed production, aquaculture, irrigation and community-based veterinary services.

"FAO's goal is to strengthen the coping mechanism and to restore the resilience of the vulnerable farmers by giving them the means to produce their own food," says Ms Bauer. "This is vital to ensure that the population reduces its dependence on emergency relief and moves towards sustained livelihoods."

Through the Special Relief Operations Service, FAO provides vulnerable people, like this woman in Somalia, with emergency assistance, such as seeds. (FAO/20440/A.Proto)

Sustainability the real battle begins when the fighting stops

Afghanistan, which has been in the media spotlight since 11 September, is the subject of a special donor alert. The United Nations has developed a six-month strategy to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection programmes for the countryís 7.5 million most vulnerable people. But, says Abdur Rashid, head of FAOís Global Information and Early Warning System, "virtually the entire population of over 23 million is hungry." As winter draws near, the priority is to prevent the population from starving with a massive influx of relief aid, but in the long-term agricultural rehabilitation is key to the countryís survival. As part of the updated UN Donor Alert, FAO is seeking US$10 million to prepare land and provide seed stock for next yearís planting.

But across the world, beyond the spotlight of the media, almost 800 million people are going hungry every day. War and displacement are the root causes of most of their food insecurity, especially in Africa. FAO is appealing for funding to work with the most vulnerable people in ëforgotten emergenciesí, those in Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Uganda and countries in the Horn of Africa.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 17 million people out of a population of 48 million are food insecure. "The advent of peace has allowed relief workers to reach many people who have been cut off from humanitarian assistance for years," says Ms Bauer. "Considering the volatile nature of the situation in these areas, it is essential to intervene now to restore the resilience of the population." Because of this, the United Nations has increased the level of its Appeal for the country from US$140 million in 2001 to US$195 million in 2002, of which FAO has earmarked US$24 million to help rural communities rebuild their livelihoods.

In Southeastern Europe, long-term food security is also a crucial issue as the people of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Province of Kosovo, try to pick up the pieces of lives shattered by war, ethnic hatred and displacement. The humanitarian strategy here is to stabilize the agricultural sector for the transition from relief to sustainability. FAO is seeking over US$19 million to increase agricultural production by reinforcing small mechanization, improving irrigation systems and distributing agricultural inputs across the region.

Stability, the promotion of peace and food security are essential components of the UNís humanitarian strategy for Asia. Previous Appeals have been launched for specific areas of unrest in Indonesia. This year, however, a comprehensive approach is being taken because six different conflicts in less than three years have uprooted more than 1.3 million people. FAO is calling for US$1.7 million out of the US$40 million Appeal to increase food production and improve livelihood in rural areas.

The people of the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea continue to suffer from cumulative effects of malnutrition, a fractured economic infrastructure and inadequate food production. The present humanitarian crisis is characterized by a food supply gap of more than 1.4 million tonnes, and FAO is appealing for US$16 million to increase food production for the countryís most vulnerable people.

As part of its Millennium Declaration, the Member States of the United Nations pledged to strengthen and expand the protection of civilians in emergencies. They committed themselves to help all refugees and displaced people return home in safety, back to their land, and to start again, with dignity, to plant their crops in peace. FAO has an important role to play in making those promises come true.

27 November 2001



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