The Humanitarian Times

December 19, 2000


- "HUMANITARIAN APPEALS" FOR $2.2B LAUNCHED BY U.N. FOR 19 COUNTRIES in need of govt contributions for UN work. The UN held simultaneous events in 8 cities on November 28/29. Among the needs calculated for 2001: $229M for Afghanistan; $225M for Angola, $194M for Sudan; $82M for Tajikistan, $102M for Somalia; & $80M for S Leone. A few days later, Kenzo Oshima of Japan was appointed to take over as head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which compiles, publishes & tracks the consolidated appeals. - More below -

- WAR BETWEEN ERITREA & ETHIOPIA ENDS WHEN BOTH SIGNED PEACE TREATY last week, establishing 25 km security zone, 4,000+ UN military monitors (from Canada & Netherlands, costing $60M), prisoner exchange, & more discussions to define a common border. The treaty does not resolve Ethiopia's need for access to an ocean port. War between Ethiopia & Eritrea killed 80,000 since 1998, above the 10,000s killed in war between Ethiopia & Eritrea in the 1980s when Eritrea allied with Tigray province in the fight to topple the military dictatorship of Mengistu. In 1993, Eritrea seceded as a new nation.

- 3 AID WORKERS MURDERED BY INDONESIAN MILITARY IN ACEH PROVINCE earlier this month, adding to 840 killings this year. Indonesia's govt turns to violence because it prefers not to accede to the Free Aceh Movement's proposed referendum on independence. Indonesian Pres. Wahid visited Aceh yesterday & today, after announcing that he will assert Shariah (Islamic) law on Aceh. Rebels have not agreed to meet with him.

- ERUPTIONS BY MEXICAN VOLCANO POPOCATEPETL INDUCE EVACUATION OF 40,000 citizens this week, 60 kilometers southeast of Mexico City. Scientists believe the volcano's new lava dome to be explosive.

- OXFAM CRITICIZES TIGHTER SANCTIONS AGAINST AFGHANISTAN, that may be approved by the UN Sec. Council this week. Oxfam emphasizes that a severe famine threatens 10,000s in Afghanistan who require more external engagement, not isolation. OCHA field staff believe that isolating Afghanistan will impair relief efforts. The U.N. evacuated staff from Afghanistan this week. Today the UN Sec. Council is expected to approve a range of new tougher sanctions, proposed by Russia & the U.S., provoked primarily by geopolitical concerns about Afghanistan's support to Islamic rebel forces in C. Asia & worldwide. Recent UN data indicate that the Taliban have succeeded in decreasing lucrative opium poppy production by Afghan farmers, although opium stockpiles exist in private hands that will keep intl. supplies flush.

- U.S. ARMY CIRCUMVENTED SANCTIONS AGAINST BURMA, BUYING $100,000 of clothing from low wage workers in Burma, despite US-supported intl. ban against trade that lends support to Burma's military. (NY Times)


- RUSSIAN MILITARY PLANS NEW 50,000 TROOP RAPID ACTION FORCE BY 2003 in order to react to emerging crises along its borders with Muslim states, the Caucasus, & Central Asia.

- IODINE DEFICIENCY CAMPAIGN RECEIVES $15M FROM BILL & MELINDA GATES FDTN, for UNICEF & Kiwanis Intl. efforts to prevent goiter, learning disabilities & mental retardation by giving iodine in remote areas.

- 3.2M PEOPLE SIGNED A PETITION AGAINST STATE KILLING (DEATH PENALTY) that yesterday was delivered by Amnesty Intl & other NGOs to UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan, who urged all nations to ban the death penalty.


- NEW REPORT BY 'WORLD COMMISSION ON DAMS' CITES 80M PERSONS DISPLACED by dam building, but does not question the conventional view of expensive, large-project dams as necessary for economic development.


- PARIS CONF. ON FORGOTTEN, PROTRACTED CRISES, LAST WEEK (Dec. 15/16), hosted by Medicines du Monde, convened NGOs, scholars & donors who examined the bureaucratic constraints against aid to neglected crises which outnumber the high-profile crises that receive disproportionate funding. Participants urged more indepth analysis of transition needs not just band-aid in cyclical complex emergencies. Although NGO programs bridge the gap between relief & development, donors don't fund or provide sufficient leadership for aid in numerous ongoing emergencies, e.g. Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Somalia or Burundi. Donors tend segment their contributions & prioritize aid on political not humanitarian grounds. In 2000, the European Commiss. Humanitarian Office withdrew from 26 countries, reducing its role in complicated, ongoing crises.




The UN releases end-of-year "consolidated" appeals, which pool estimates by all UN agencies involved in humanitarian response in the most affected countries. The consolidated appeals, referred to as "CAPS", organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) can be downloaded: Increasingly, the CAPS include direct reference to programs planned by NGOs & the Red Cross, & this year seeks funding for the expanding newswire IRIN, as well as Relief-Web. In addition to $430M for SE Europe, new estimates include:

- The $140M Appeal for Dem. Republic of Congo emphasizes "enhancing survival mechanisms of war-affected populations" & provides for food security (local purchase of food), primary health care, epidemic disease control;

- The $44M Chechnya Appeal projects little or no return of IDPs from Ingushetia to Chechnya in 2001, focusing on protection, water/sanitation & food aid, & calls for support to local Ingusheti households who have volunteered shelter to Chechens;

- The $12M Maluku (NE Indonesia) Appeal would help support 400,000 displaced persons & for conflict resolution;

- The $102M Burundi Appeal foresees the large-scale return of refugees & IDPs to their homes in Burundi & thus emphasizes economic recovery, infrastructure, human rights & rule of law, & "campaigns for peace", as well as $40M in food aid; &

- The $110M for Tanzania is primarily for the 480,000 refugees living in camps in Tanzania.




Slightly more than half of the $2.1B in CAP appeals for calendar year 2000 were funded as of November. Of the $1.2B resources received against calendar year 2000 appeals, half, or $600M, was given for emergency food aid transported by the World Food Programme: by far the largest expense item in the CAPs is bulk food aid. Second to WFP, UNHCR received the highest proportion - 69% - of its projected requirements. In contrast, the World Health Organization received only 39% ($24M) of expenses estimated for emergency health programs, including control of epidemic communicable diseases.

Countries that have poor media image, like Afghanistan and the Dem. Rep. of Congo, have received the lowest levels of funding as a percentage of estimates in recent years. This week UNHCR complained that while their budget for well-watched areas such as Kosovo achieve 90% of funding, their Africa programs only garner 60%. Countries that have provided the most humanitarian assistance against the CAPs, as a percentage of their own national economy (GNP) have been small northern European states. In sheer terms, The U.S. ($334M), Japan ($156M), & European Commission ($78M) were the largest donors, figures presented summarize funding in 2000 through November.

- "GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE 2000" COMMISSIONED BY THE U.N. Inter-agency Standing Committee & authored by Development Initiatives, a British NGO (May 2000), evaluates why humanitarian appeals, like the CAPS, fail to achieve full funding, year after year. The authors find that even though the ability to give, as measured by income, has grown dramatically in recent years, average giving by people in donor countries has held steady for years at roughly $5 per capita per year.

Most significantly, the authors find that even though funding for appeals reflects political preferences, the appeals themselves are biased to take into account estimates of donor interest. "A spiral effect is the result: increased attention leads to increased donor interest & increased commitment, leads to more optimistic estimates for what funding may be available, leads to higher estimates of need, leads to increased funding, etc. Some countries suffer from a downward spiral of global concern." Many localized "forgotten" emergencies "scarcely make their way onto the intl. agenda at all."

In the long-term, the report finds that trends in government assistance for humanitarian emergencies "show a distinctive pattern: periodic increases in humanitarian aid tend to be followed by a plateau & then another rise. Funding does not fall back to its pre-plateau level." Funding has increased for repatriation, demobilization resettlement, & primary health care. The authors observe that while total intl. food aid declined during the 1990s, most of the decline was in govt-to-govt program aid, while food for emergencies fluctuated without clear trend. In the 1990s, NGOs became increasingly important as procurers & transporters of food aid. Funding for natural disasters vacillates unpredictably, driven apparently by idiosyncratic events, such as Hurricane Mitch, which led to donations "equivalent of the combined contributions made by all donors to all natural disasters during the previous 5 years." Many stark truths about the vagaries of aid are described, including the inaccuracy of estimates of populations "affected" by emergencies. The report usefully examines the architecture of assistance, including the rapid response facilities of agencies.

Additional information on aid donation trends can be obtained from the Reality of Aid's website:


December 19, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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