Afghanistan

United Nations seeks USD 604 million for Afghanistan

Humanitarian Action Plan to help vulnerable people in Afghanistan.

United Nations agencies and their partners are seeking a total of $603. 9 million to meet the immediate needs of those made most vulnerable by natural disasters, lack of access to basic social services, increasing food insecurity caused by rising prices, and the worsening security situation.

"Coming on top of chronic vulnerability and widespread poverty, insecurity has contributed to the increase in acute humanitarian needs. The lack of security in some areas also prevents humanitarian aid workers from carrying out their life-saving work," said John Holmes, United Nations Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

In recent years, attacks on humanitarian personnel and assets have risen significantly. By the end of October 2008, 36 aid workers had been killed and a further 92 abducted. The UN recorded over 120 direct attacks between January and August 2008.

The humanitarian situation worsened during 2008. The most pressing problems are severe food insecurity and the impact of the armed conflict on civilians. Extreme poverty--42 per cent of the population live on less than $1 per day--and lack of development increase the suffering of the population during times of crisis and limit their coping strategies. Persistently high food prices, combined with recurrent drought, have compounded the humanitarian needs of a large part of the Afghan population. As a consequence of drought, an estimated 1.2 million children under five and 550,000 pregnant and lactating women in 22 provinces are at high risk of malnutrition.

Faced with so many challenges, the United Nations in October announced its decision to open an Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) office by the end of 2008.

The Humanitarian Action Plan, with a set of 112 projects from 39 NGOs and eight United Nations organizations, aims to provide relief, to monitor the protection of civilians, to mitigate food insecurity, to improve preparedness for disasters, and to increase overall humanitarian access.

For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679, bunker@un.org; Nicholas Reader +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117, reader@un.org, John Nyaga, OCHA-NY, + 1 917 367 9262, nyagaj@un.org; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org.

OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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