New York

30 November 2006

Secretary-General's remarks at launch of Humanitarian Appeal 2007

Thank you very much, Jan [Egeland]

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking HRH [Princess Haya of Jordan] and Dr. [Denis] Mukwege [Director of the Panzi Hospital, Democratic Republic of the Congo] for joining us this morning for the launch.

We have gathered to answer the call of 27 million people across 29 countries whose lives have been crippled by conflict and calamity. These individuals –overwhelmingly women and children –subsist on the very margins of society in places like Somalia, the occupied Palestinian territory, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Their names may be unknown to us, their lives hidden from view, but their cry for our attention must not go unanswered. In our era of unprecedented prosperity, they are the ones for whom, more than anyone else, the essentials of existence –clean water, lifesaving drugs, emergency shelter –remain essentially unavailable.

These 27 million individuals seek not a hand out, but a hand up. And I hope that, once again, we will respond –not with pity, but with practical assistance. For 2007, such assistance amounts to $3.9 billion for basic life-sustaining humanitarian aid and protection –or approximately the same price as two cups of coffee for each citizen in the wealthy countries of the world.

The response to this appeal will determine whether a lifeline of hope, protection and assistance is available to millions in need.

For you, the donors, the Consolidated Appeals offer several practical advantages. First, they are efficient. By bringing together all UN actors, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and non-governmental organizations, the Appeals avoid costly gaps and duplication. Donor contributions are financially transparent and publicly visible, upholding the highest standards of accountability. In fact, any citizen can go online and see, in real time, how his or her tax dollars are being used to improve the lives of these millions.

But most important, Consolidated Appeals are effective. Working together, aid agencies can deliver the most timely and useful assistance possible. Complemented by the new Central Emergency Response Fund, the Appeals are one of the most compelling contributions we can make toward a more equitable, healthy and prosperous world community.

As we just saw in the video, the money you provide makes a real difference. For example, it enables a young mother like Middy Omara in Northern Uganda to leave her children in a safe place so she can cultivate her fields and feed her family.

In Somalia, donor funding of last year's Appeal allowed therapeutic feeding for 11,000 acutely malnourished children, enabled more than 63,000 students to resume schooling and provided emergency school-feeding for 18,000 pupils.

In the Central African Republic, your funds provided more than 70,000 children with at least one meal a day thanks to school canteens opened in 201 primary schools and 20 nurseries.

This year Africa remains the continent most in need. Yet previous Appeal funds have made a remarkable difference. With your help, my fellow Africans are transforming despair into hope, and hatred into healing. They are resourceful and resilient, and they deserve our continued strong support.

Finally, on a personal note. This is my last Humanitarian Appeal as Secretary-General. Over the past decade, I or my representatives have stood before you to seek funding for our humanitarian assistance and protection programs. And each year, I must admit, I have been dismayed that donors have, on average, given only two-thirds of the bare-bones requirements in these Appeals. And for each success that I mentioned just now, where your funds made a difference, there is a contrasting story where help could not be offered for lack of funds.

What this means is heartbreakingly simple. Each year, we knowingly fail to provide for a child suffering from disease or hunger. Each year, we knowingly fail a mother like Mrs. Omara in Uganda who struggles to feed her family under desperate conditions. Each year, we fail to offer vitally needed assistance to health care professionals like Dr. Mukwege, whom you heard earlier this morning, working valiantly on the frontlines. Each year, we fail to provide sums that are truly paltry in comparison with what the world spends annually for less productive purposes.

I believe we should - and can - do much better -- better as nations, and better as the United Nations and maybe even better as individuals.

What shall we say when our children or grandchildren ask us, “Why?” Why did we let so many women and children die unnecessarily when we had the money, we had the knowledge, and we had the tools to save them? I hope we will not answer that, though we had the money, we lacked the will, vision and the heart.

As an international community, it is in our common interest to respond generously to the needs of the most destitute amongst us.

So thank you for responding so generously to this year's Appeal. With your full and timely support, we can provide hope and assistance to those most in need.

Thank you very much.