Angola + 4 more

Leading humanitarian organizations urge response to "forgotten" emergencies

Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response
17, ch des Crêts, Petit-Saconnex, 1211 geneva 19, switzerland
tel: (41 22) 730 4500 fax: 730 4999 e-mail:
Geneva, 8 July, 1999 - Chief executive officers representing major non-United Nations humanitarian agencies urge that the humanitarian crisis in the Balkans should not eclipse the acute humanitarian needs elsewhere.

At its semi-annual meeting yesterday, the members of the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), whose organizations are deeply involved in the Balkans, expressed their concern that emergencies elsewhere in the world, some of which are of even greater magnitude, should continue to receive the resources and attention that is required to alleviate the suffering of all those affected by calamity.

The SCHR welcomes UN High Commissioner for Refugees Madame Ogata's recent trip to Africa which highlighted the humanitarian crises in that continent and urges humanitarian agencies, donors, as well as the general public, to heed the warning of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that "acute and tragic as it is, the present humanitarian crisis in south eastern Europe must not divert attention and resources from other emergencies in Africa, in the Caucasus and in Central Asia and elsewhere."

In countries such as Angola, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Sudan and Sierra Leone, on-going conflicts have claimed millions of lives and yet UN agencies, NGOs and church groups report serious shortages of funds to respond to these emergencies. Moreover, political commitment and energy are needed to address the causes which have created these conditions and to seek durable solutions.

The Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), an alliance for voluntary action of: Care International, Caritas Internationalis, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Committee of the Red Cross, International Save the Children Alliance, Lutheran World Federation, Médecins sans Frontières, Oxfam International and World Council of Churches, is composed of nine chief executive officers representing each of its organisations. Its present chair is Mike Aaronson who is Director General of Save the Children UK.