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FAO launches $145 million appeal to fund emergency operations in poor countries

Press Release 00/08
Rome, 22 February - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is appealing for some $145 million in support of emergency activities in the poorest countries of the world. The money will fund the recovery and rehabilitation of agriculture in 13 countries (*) and the Great Lakes/Central Africa regions, which are suffering from natural or man-made disasters, FAO said in a statement released today.

"The role of FAO is to support farmers in disaster and emergency areas so they can get back to producing food as soon as possible," said Anne M. Bauer, Chief of FAO's Special Relief Operations Service.

FAO's Special Relief Operations Service intervenes following natural disasters, such as drought, floods, cyclones or hurricanes, crop pest infestations, epidemic animal diseases as well as damage caused by war, civil strife or political upheavals. FAO's emergency assistance covers a wide range of activities to rehabilitate disaster-stricken areas.

This year, FAO is seeking support for projects in countries such as East Timor, Kosovo and Burundi. For example, in East Timor a seed multiplication programme is required to provide high quality seed to future returnees and to strengthen the quality of the country's seed stock. Moreover, there is an urgent need for a livestock vaccination campaign and rehabilitation of the artisanal fisheries sector. These needs total approximately $1 million..

FAO has launched a $25 million appeal to distribute seeds and fertilizers and to repair farm machinery for 70,000 rural families affected by the recent conflict in Kosovo. With funds received in 1999, the international community was able to assist more than 70,000 farm families in planting crops on 79,000 hectares, down just ten percent on the area planted in 1997/98 season.

In Burundi, 1.5 million people have received seeds and hoes to continue farming in 1999. Around $7 million has been requested this year to support subsistence farming and to assist about 700,000 displaced people, FAO said.

In 1999 FAO received funding for 125 projects in 43 countries around the world, from Central America to Africa and from Tajikistan to North Korea. The activities ranged from locust control in Madagascar, aerial spraying against crop pests in Iraq, the distribution of seeds, tools and fertilizers to displaced people in the Great Lakes Region and Central Africa.

The largest part of FAO's emergency activities is in Iraq, funded separately under the UN Oil-for-Food Programme. It allows Iraq to sell oil for food under the supervision of the UN Security Council. In the next six months, FAO will continue to implement its extensive agricultural assistance programme in Northern Iraq.

Apart from the Oil-for-Food Programme, FAO's emergency activities are mainly supported by countries such as Sweden, Belgium, US, Netherlands, Norway, Italy, UK and Finland. Contributions from FAO's own budget and from other UN agencies, especially the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), comprise the rest of the funding.

FAO works closely with international and private organizations dedicated to humanitarian assistance. NGOs are often FAO's main partners in complex emergencies, contributing to monitoring and assessment of needs and to management of relief operations.

(*) The countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, PR Congo, East Timor, North Korea, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tadjikistan and Uganda.