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UN funding appeals for poor nations fall short, says official

UNITED NATIONS — Haiti, South Sudan and Sudan all face stubborn humanitarian crises, even as UN-driven pleas for financial assistance for those countries appear to have fallen short, a top humanitarian UN official said Wednesday.

The need for funding is especially great in Haiti, which is reeling from the effects of a massive hurricane last month, and in the two African nations that are dealing with millions of displaced people as internecine wars rage within their borders, said John Ging, the director of operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Ging, fresh back from a 10-day tour of the three countries, said humanitarian agencies’ attempts to bring stability to these nations are beset by inadequate funding from the world’s richest nations.

“The world is not poor,” Ging said, chiding leaders of the 20 richest nations — not including the United States — for not fully funding the humanitarian appeals worldwide, while saying the shortfall means people are dying unnecessarily.

The 25-year veteran of humanitarian relief efforts said nations have contributed about half of what is necessary worldwide, so another $10 billion is urgently needed for a variety of problems affecting millions of people in dozens of countries.

He cited the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN’s 193 member states last year, a pact pledging, among other things, to end poverty and help developing nations achieve political, economic and social stability.

“These global leaders have committed to leave nobody behind by 2030,” he said, referring to the SDG’s deadline. “We’re a year down the line. What is the answer for the people of South Sudan, Sudan and Haiti? Are they a year closer to not being left behind? I have to be honest: I don’t see it.”

UN officials estimate that the world spends $25 billion to provide assistance to 125 million people coping with wars and natural disasters, a small sum compared to the $78 trillion that makes up the world’s gross domestic product.

In South Sudan, where Ging said as many as 6 million people are in need of assistance, there are nearly 2 million internally displaced people and another million refugees. That humanitarian effort, he said, is about 75 percent funded — better than most, but not enough to properly serve the population.

In Sudan, where conflicts continue in the Darfur region, he said about $555 million, another 58 percent of the goal, is needed to meet the needs of 5.8 million people in need of assistance and 3.2 million who have become internally displaced.

In Haiti, Ging said, an appeal for funding stands at 40 percent funded of the $120 million requested — a surprisingly low figure relative to the scale of the hurricane-borne disaster and the island nation’s needs, he said. What’s more, the country endured a massive earthquake in 2010 that killed thousands and experienced a cholera outbreak linked to poor sanitation practices by UN peacekeepers.

Hurricane Matthew struck rural areas, affecting 1.4 million people and creating 175,000 internally displaced people, Ging said, adding that all of the crises require better responses.

“The appeal is to our donors to enable us to do much more,” Ging said. “They need everything in terms of help to get back on their feet.”


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