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Top Aid Official at U.N. Says World Is Failing Africa

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The United Nations has made fourteen appeals for aid to Africa so far this year. Yet eight of those appeals have received less than twenty percent of the amount requested. And only one, a small appeal for Angola, has received more than forty percent.

These numbers are from the U.N. official who supervises emergency aid. Jan Egeland, from Norway, says that in general there is too little investment in the area of the world with the greatest need.

Mister Egeland spoke last week to reporters and the U.N. Security Council about the humanitarian crises in Africa. Later, the council released a statement of deep concern about the situation.

The U.N. appeals included a request for more than twenty-three million dollars for the Central African Republic. Only six percent of that has been received, and only eight percent of a requested one hundred sixty-four million dollars for Somalia.

Mister Egeland says too many people are dying because of too little money or because it arrives too late. And he says Africa has new crises faster than the U.N. can solve old ones. The recent political conflict in Togo, for example, has created thousands of refugees.

And Mister Egeland spoke of recent killings in northern Uganda by rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army. Almost two million people have been displaced by years of civil war in northern Uganda. Mister Egeland said more aid is needed to prevent a break in the food supply in June.

He warned about food shortages in several countries in southern Africa as well as Ethiopia and Eritrea in the east. The U.N. official spoke of the combined threat of AIDS, food shortages and weak government in Zimbabwe and other countries.

Also, he says promises of aid are not being met fast enough to help the refugees from Darfur, in western Sudan. About two hundred thousand people have entered Chad to escape two years of violence in Darfur.

Mister Egeland said there is "an inbuilt discrimination" against Africa. In his words: "If we all agree that a human life has the same value wherever he or she is born, there should be the same attention to northern Uganda as to northern Iraq, the same attention to the Congo as there was to Kosovo.

"And that," he added, "is not the case today."

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. Our reports are online at I’m Gwen Outen.