UN, NGO and General News Round-Up

The United Nations has launched its largest ever aid appeal, saying it will need USD 7 billion to help 30 million people in 31 countries during 2009. The Humanitarian Appeal 2009 is the largest since the creation of the so-called Consolidated Appeals Process in 1991, with Sudan accounting for more than a quarter of all intended funds, the UN said in a statement. The appeal comprises twelve consolidated appeals for the Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and its region, Kenya, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, the West African region, and Zimbabwe, the UN said.

More than 2 million Somalis suffering the combined effects of war, drought, and soaring food and fuel prices will receive deliveries of almost 60,000 tons of food from a United Nations agency this month, thanks to naval protection from the Netherlands and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against pirate attacks. Naval escorts from a Dutch frigate and two NATO warships are providing vital protection from pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa for the six UN World Food Program (WFP) ships loaded with aid. Since the end of October, WFP vessels have been able to deliver over 48,400 tons of food to some 2.3 million Somalis.

Aid agencies must expect a drop in funding in the year ahead as the economic crisis takes its toll on private, corporate and governmental donors, the Red Cross warned Nov. 18. “2009 is probably going to be tough for us and many of the humanitarian agencies,” said Encho Gospodinov, director of the Policy and Communications division at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). …Private individuals and corporations are already cutting back on the amount they give to charities, according to national Red Cross societies which have already launched their pre-Christmas appeals, he said.

Colombia continues to endure a serious displacement crisis due to new illegal armed groups, new structures of organized crime and the ongoing 45-year-old conflict between the army and irregular armed groups, despite some recent progress, a senior UN humanitarian official warned Nov. 14. “The continuously high rate of new cases of forced displacement in certain parts of the country like the Pacific coast, is especially worrying,” the Secretary-General’s Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) said, calling for comprehensive strategies on prevention and protection, as well as socio-economic stabilization.

Zimbabwe, battling chronic food shortages and astronomical inflation, is set to receive 350,000 tons of maize from the World Food Program (WFP), state media reported on Nov. 19. Millions in the southern African country are ravaged by an economic crisis critics blame on President Robert Mugabe’s policies, such as the seizure of commercial farms to resettle landless blacks, which ruined the agriculture sector. The WFP and other aid agencies have said up to 5 million people – almost half the population – might need food assistance by early next year, Reuters reported.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) has already delivered 23,000 tons of food for nearly 1 million Afghans, some of whom will be cut off from supplies once winter’s bitter cold arrives and heavy snows set in. This represents nearly two-thirds of the 36,000 tons that WFP plans to deliver during the winter, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesperson Nilab Mobarez told reporters in Kabul. Between January and Nov. 13 this year there have been 25 armed attacks against commercial vehicles carrying WFP food, resulting in the loss of some 870 tons of food.

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