Iraq

Launch of the revised Humanitarian Appeal for Iraq - Statement by Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

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Thank you, Deputy Secretary-General
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to illustrate in more detail the requirements we are presenting in the revised Humanitarian Appeal. The Deputy Secretary-General already mentioned the most important figure - the outstanding requirements of $259 million for which we are seeking additional support from the international community today. These are the net requirements of the United Nations for the remaining six months of the year.

It is worth mentioning that even with these net requirements for six months, the revised Appeal is still the second largest inter-agency appeal (after Afghanistan). It has been encouraging to see several donors allocate supplemental funds for Iraq and we hope this will again be the case for the remaining needs.

The revised Appeal also describes the gross requirements for all sectors which amount to $2.2 billion. I wish to highlight the fact that about 88 percent of this total amount has already been resourced. The gross amount also happens to be almost identical to the one we originally presented in the Flash Appeal in March. So the overall requirements in both Appeals have remained the same despite the fact that we have extended the period for which we are appealing by an additional three months.

The largest component of these overall requirements remains the food sector which represents about 70 percent of the total. In fact, funding requirements for food aid have increased compared to the Flash Appeal as WFP has extended its support to the Public Distribution System from three to five months. This means support to virtually the entire population requiring more than 2.1 million metric tonnes of food. But thanks to generous donor support and more than $1 billion in resources from the Oil-for-Food programme, the food aid requirements in the Appeal are already fully funded.

In contrast, in other sectors we still need significant additional resources to allow agencies to respond to priority needs. Assistance to the basic health system and nutrition support now account for about 30 percent of outstanding funding needs. There are clear indications that the health status of the population has deteriorated, including an initial survey in Baghdad that showed a worrying increase in malnutrition rates among children.

There are also several sectors in which additional needs have emerged over the past three months. As a consequence, requirements in these areas have actually increased compared to the Flash Appeal. Some of these emerging relief needs are related to events that we had not anticipated, such as the widespread lootings and destruction that occurred after the conflict. They include emergency repairs to water and sewage systems, hospitals and other essential facilities. Rehabilitating these facilities, while essential in themselves, will also help create employment, another major priority at the moment.

Children are the main beneficiaries of two other sectors in which we plan to expand our assistance significantly in the coming weeks and months - education and mine action. Our efforts in these two areas are mutually reinforcing: The more children can go back to school the less they will be exposed to the deadly threat of mines and unexploded ordnance. The removal of this threat requires an urgent and coordinated effort - the number of casualties caused by mines and unexploded ordnance in some areas of Iraq is among the highest in the world.

There is one last sector I would like to highlight. The revised Appeal presents programmes that will support the dignified and orderly return of refugees and internally displaced persons. After decades of war, forced relocation and outward migration, we expect that several hundred thousand Iraqis will now want to return home. They are Iraqi refugees in neighbouring and other countries who now want to repatriate. In addition, there are several different caseloads of internally displaced persons. Assessing their needs, ensuring their protection, and preparing for an orderly return that avoids creating new tensions will be among the key challenges in the months ahead. Together with the Authority, we also have to ensure that the pace of the return is adjusted to reflect the conditions in the home communities.

As the Deputy Secretary-General mentioned, we anticipate that the great majority of humanitarian assistance activities would be phased out by the end of this year, assuming that the situation continues to stabilize. This means that we have to start planning the transition to longer-term reconstruction activities now. I would say that we are already off to a very good start in this respect. The humanitarian community is working closely with the UN Development Group in planning the sectoral needs assessments that will take place over the summer. The level of cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF is also excellent, with staff from both organizations working closely with our teams in Baghdad. The meetings this afternoon and tomorrow will provide us with an early opportunity to start establishing the linkages and mechanisms we need to make this transition as smooth as possible.

The phasing out of humanitarian assistance and a successful transition will require continued strong support from donors for the revised Appeal we are launching today. We have to make sure that the immediate needs of the Iraqi people are met at the same time as we are planning for the recovery and reconstruction of the country.

Allow me to mention one last but important point. The contributions and pledges we have reflected in the revised Appeal include a total of $158 million that donors have pledged but not yet allocated. Now that adjusted requirements and new priorities have been presented, I hope that donors find it possible to allocate these pledged funds as soon as possible. In addition to making these allocations, we would like to appeal to donors to respond swiftly and generously to the outstanding requirements, as presented.

Thanks you very much.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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