Central African Republic




Chechnya & Neighbouring Republics RF


Cote D'Ivoire Plus Three


Democratic People's Republic of Korea


Democratic Republic of the Congo

  Great Lakes Region and Central Africa  
 Occupied Palestinian Territory  
  Sierra Leone  
  Southern Africa Region  
  West Africa  

Other Crises


2004 Humanitarian Appeals


People in need

More than 45 million people are struggling to survive the painful consequences of conflicts and natural disasters. They are victims and survivors, sometimes of several crises at once: war, drought, poverty, and HIV/AIDS.

As this Appeal shows, these people live amidst 21 crises across the world, the majority of them in Africa. At the same time, this Appeal calls attention to the plight of millions more people in need in other crises, such as Afghanistan and Colombia.

"On behalf of my people, I would like to give enormous thanks for the work that the United Nations has done already to improve the situation in my country. After the war, many areas were in desperate need and the UN helped us a lot, especially in food assistance and other things like clothes. The UN manages to reach people in isolated areas that the government cannot reach."
Carlos, 27, mine clearer, Angola

Behind the statistics are ordinary people, each with their lives, hopes and dreams. They are people living in extraordinary situations.

Many have been displaced from their homes, had their lives severely disrupted, and lost their livelihoods and belongings.

It may be hard to imagine. There's a war; your home is destroyed, schools and hospitals stop working, gas and electricity go out. Safety and security are a hope, not a reality.

Savings and possessions disappear. People need food, and much more, to survive.

In such situations, the youngest, oldest, and weakest people, who often depend most on community support, are the worst affected.

Compassion may be a natural reaction, but people struggling to survive against overwhelming odds rarely want our pity. Instead they need our practical support to help them to respond, recover and get their normal lives back.

Pitiful images of helpless victims, therefore, do a disservice to people's efforts to survive. They mask the reality that most people do not wait passively for aid, but struggle hard to cope, drawing on all their capacities, resources, and courage.

Estimated numbers of beneficiaries in CAP 2004

CAP: Number of appeals in Africa



Agency plans

For 2004, the humanitarian community has worked together to identify needs by sector, for example food, health, shelter, and education. They have prepared plans to work with national governments and local organizations: 136 agencies are proposing 1,086 projects to meet the needs of people facing acute risks to their lives.

The plans reflect a commitment to coordinated aid work and agreement on a core agenda to protect life, uphold rights, and ensure health and basic subsistence.

Specialization aside, all humanitarian agencies are concerned with alleviating human suffering, and saving and sustaining lives. Agencies are aware that, ultimately, they share the same goals and that the best way to proceed is in partnership.

Few would disagree with the definition of the humanitarian goal stated at the June 2003 International Meeting on Good Humanitarian Donorship in Stockholm: "To save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters," and "to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations."

But the task of "saving lives" inevitably involves more than this. It also means rebuilding destroyed societies, restoring basic services and strengthening systems that protect people. The humanitarian agenda, therefore, often extends to reconstruction, recovery, transition and peace building.
"If I could give a message to people in rich countries, I would first say thank you for the assistance they have already provided. I would also like to encourage them to continue their acts of love and generosity. My message to world leaders is: Please don’t forget us."
Marcel, 12, ex-child soldier, Democratic Republic of Congo

Humanitarian aid therefore also helps governments to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals agreed in 2000.

In 2004, agencies expect to build on their successes. Among more visible achievements in 2003, humanitarian organizations carried out large-scale polio eradication campaigns in several African countries, fed people as war raged in Liberia, resettled people in Angola and Indonesia, helped avert famine in Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Southern Africa, and provided potable water to people in Chechnya (Russian Federation).

In each of the world's crises, aid agencies providing food, shelter, and medicine helped to save and sustain countless lives. And while aid workers faced growing risks to their personal safety, they continued to provide aid to people in need.

Nonetheless, humanitarian aid is not a solution to the world's crises. Aid workers can address humanitarian needs; but they cannot solve underlying political, economic and social problems that cause and perpetuate these crises.


Consolidated Appeals for 2004 (US$)


Some 20 donor governments, meeting in Stockholm in June 2003, again committed themselves to responding to humanitarian needs.

Donors expressed concern at the large number of people affected by complex emergencies, and noted that responses had significant shortcomings and that needs were not being met.

The principles of "humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence," they agreed, must guide humanitarian donors. They should work to save human lives and alleviate suffering wherever it is found, on the basis of need without discriminating against or favouring any side to a conflict, and to act independently of political, military, and economic objectives.

Ten largest donors to CAP 2003, measured by US$

Ten largest donors to CAP 2003, measured by contributions as a proportion of GDP1

1GDP data are for 2002, provided by the World Bank

Ethical responsibility

Citizens of many nations share a basic humanitarian ethic that prompts them to help people caught in the world's humanitarian crises. We have seen time and again how ordinary citizens give generously when they see people in dire need on TV.

This should not be surprising. That we should treat others as we would like them to treat us is a central tenet in many religious and moral codes. Those who can should help those in need. Further, humanitarians regret that, in a world of plenty, people in the world's crises live in fear and die without food and medicines.

Whether global citizens' urge to help others in need is a fundamental human instinct or a global extension of community spirit, it is surely a sign that the voices of millions of affected people will be heard.

Human Security

For reasons in addition to ethics, governments are increasingly willing to invest in human security worldwide. The security of people living in donor nations today is linked to the safety and well-being of people elsewhere.

“I think assistance will be needed until people can support themselves with jobs. If I could address leaders I would ask them not to hurt children, not to hurt so many people any more. When every pupil in class has a notebook, and a pencil on his or her desk and there is a teacher willing to teach we will be able to restore everything else.”
Cedric, 48, teacher,  Liberia

Some donors have made human security a cornerstone of their foreign and development policies. Canada, for one, sees humanitarian aid as a means of enhancing the security of Canadians, as well as a moral obligation. "Events in recent years have reconfirmed that, in an increasingly interdependent world, the safety and security of Canadians at home are inextricably linked to the safety of those living beyond our borders," said Bill Graham, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2002.

This reflects a shift in global security thinking. On 1 May 2003, the Commission on Human Security proposed a new people-centred security framework to the United Nations, designed to shield people from "critical and pervasive threats" and to "empower" them.

"If the international community, the UN and the European Union, for example, could give more support it would benefit the whole country. We are ultimately working for the development of Angola. I hope that one day our country will recover but we need a lot of assistance and we also must work hard to make conditions better."
Gaspar, 29, mine clearer, Angola

Many humanitarians recognize the complex connections among crises, widespread suffering, underdevelopment, forced migration and global security. They see, for example, how children in conflict zones who are victims of violence themselves may be drawn into perpetuating violence and insecurity.

Donors who help people in need hold that their assistance may help to prevent refugee flows to their country. Indeed, many donors perceive a link between crises in other countries, forced migration, and national security.

“People who allocate funds to the United Nations should know that the aid does reach us. There are lots of disabled people here like myself and I wish they were reached by this assistance, too. I would like to see this aid continued for another two or three years so that the people could get over this
Joseph, 41, Freetown resident, Sierra Leone

Rights not charity?

Donors understand that people have a right to life and to receive basic assistance when in need, and that the international community has an obligation to uphold such rights. This may explain why donor funding to human rights within humanitarian work has increased in recent years.

Under international laws on humanitarian aid, refugees, and human rights, people have the right to assistance and protection, even when their governments or rulers are unable or unwilling to provide it.

Moreover, during the past decade, people's rights and their realization has become a central debate in the United Nations Security Council, especially about Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, and Somalia.

Among humanitarian organizations, there has been a shift towards rights-based humanitarianism. Many humanitarians would like to see aid evolve from a free-floating act of kindness to one rooted in explicit values, precise political contracts and types of assistance, based on law.


Aid agencies are aware that, despite the generosity of donors, the current financing system does not provide a guaranteed base for meeting humanitarian requirements.

More needed

Viewed as a whole, the financing of humanitarian aid is insufficient. In 2003, contributions fell well below requirements to fund projects and meet identified needs.

Agencies sought US$ 5.1 billion through the 2003 CAP, and received US$ 3.3 billion. And while this means that donors helped to meet 65.6 per cent of needs, concerns remain about funding gaps.

Most humanitarian workers have first-hand experience of the impact of under-funding. They have seen how life-threatening risks are not addressed or averted because of insufficient or the late arrival of resources.

Humanitarian funding requests are clearly large in absolute terms, but pale in comparison to other global expenditure patterns. Currently, the world spends some US$ 10 billion on humanitarian aid, compared to US$ 794 billion on the military, according to figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

"We would like to thank those people who help us. And we request that they help us more. The most important thing for us is to ensure peace, so that there is no war. We want to work. And we don't want to be afraid.
Abdukahor, 64, veterinarian, Tajikistan

The amount requested for 2004, US$ 3 billion, is equivalent to people in donor nations each making a contribution of about US$ 3, the cost of a magazine or two cups of coffee.


Percentage of funds received for CAP 2003 per quarter

Percentage of requirements received per Consolidated Appeal 2003

Forgotten crises

Another issue is that financing is unbalanced because donors respond more to some crises than others. Spending per capita varies sharply from US$ 25 in some crises to US$ 180 in others. Compared to high-profile crises like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, funding for forgotten crises like Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo is relatively low.

This pattern is now well documented. Of a total of 78 appeals covering 34 countries between 2000 and 2003 (to date), half of total CAP contributions went to just seven appeals. Contributions as a percentage of appealed requirements for those seven averaged 75%, while for the remainder they averaged only 54%. The former Yugoslavia, the largest recipient from 1995-2000, received up to a fifth of donations during that period.

Moreover, humanitarian aid is often driven by political concerns. A new study by the Humanitarianism and War Project at Tufts University concludes, "Humanitarian action is largely imbedded within competing and sometimes inconsistent domestic and foreign policy priorities." The study also notes that "domestic politics now plays an even greater role.

"My first message to people in rich countries is, 'thank you for your assistance'. I will also pray for them and hope that their good gestures will continue so that other children in trouble can receive help here or in other countries in need. I also wish that education assistance could be a priority."
Jean, 16, ex-child soldier, Democratic Republic of Congo

Humanitarian financing is further distorted by the limited number of donors. Just 10 countries typically provide over 90 per cent of all official humanitarian aid. Indeed, OECD members and the world’s top 500 corporations, for example, could do more to finance vital humanitarian aid.


For aid agencies planning their operations, humanitarian financing is unpredictable. Nearly all donor contributions remain entirely voluntary.

Three studies in 2003 concluded that donors needed to provide adequate resources, with greater predictability and greater scale of contributions, if multilateral agencies are to function effectively. Donors are aware of these issues and are seeking ways improve the financing system.

Donors meeting annually in Montreux, Switzerland, are looking to develop a strong multilateral response, "with the necessary mandate, capacity, and resources" to meet humanitarian needs in an impartial and effective way.

"My message to the people and leaders of rich countries is that we are living miserably here and need more help. It is very cold at night and my children are suffering. They have little to cover themselves and run around barefoot catching diseases from the dirty ground. I wonder, why hasn’t the war ended?  We are people who have been scattered like butterflies by the way; we are butterflies. Will we ever see our families again?"
Justine, 39, displaced teacher, Democratic Republic of Congo

Donors who met in Stockholm under the Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative in 2003, meanwhile, promised to "strive to ensure flexible and timely funding, on the basis of the collective obligation of striving to meet humanitarian needs." They also pledged to "explore the possibility of reducing, or enhancing the flexibility of, earmarking, and of introducing longer-term funding arrangements."

The fulfilment of all these pledges would make humanitarian financing more balanced and predictable.


In 1991, following a problematic response to the plight of Iraqi Kurdish refugees in the wake of the first Gulf War, the United Nations General Assembly created the Consolidated Appeals.

The Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) is a mechanism used by aid organizations to plan, implement and monitor their activities. Working together in the world's crisis regions, they produce a Common Humanitarian Action Plan and an appeal, which they present to the international community and donors.

"I would like to say that the assistance reached the people here and the people did need this assistance. They are grateful to the humanitarian organizations for this support over the last years. For the future, I would call on the donors, humanitarian organizations, and others not to forget about us. The health problems remain, and people need medicines, food, and other forms of assistance."
Zareta, 37, IDP doctor, Ingushetia, Russian Federation

As a planning mechanism, the CAP has contributed significantly to developing a more strategic approach to the provision of humanitarian aid.

As a coordination mechanism the CAP has fostered closer cooperation between governments, donors, aid agencies, and a range of other humanitarian organizations.

Since its inception, the CAP has become the humanitarian sector’s main tool for coordination, strategic planning and programming. Speaking with a common voice, agencies have been able to demand greater protection, get better access to vulnerable populations and work more effectively with governments and other actors. Such unity will be more important than ever in the hazardous security environments where agencies must often work and which will require greater resources to be dedicated to security for national and international humanitarian workers alike.

Summary of revised requirements and contributions for CAP 2003

Summary of Requirements for CAP 2004 - By Appeal and Appealing Organization


Copyright  © 2003  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs