x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Contribution to UN Africa fund expected soon

The UAE is expected to announce how it will contribute to a UN effort to raise money for people suffering from drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.

DUBAI // The UAE is expected to soon announce its contribution to the UN appeal for the Horn of Africa.

UN officials yesterday urged people not to ignore the regional crisis, and to observe today's World Humanitarian Day in honour of aid workers who have lost their lives and those who continue to risk theirs to help others.

"We are in discussions on how much they [the UAE] are going to give Africa and Somalia," said Brigitte Khair Mountain, the head of office and senior adviser at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Abu Dhabi.

"I think they will tell us in the next few days. We are having a meeting next week. The UAE for the first time is wanting to engage multilaterally. That is a new direction. Hopefully, we will design emergency projects with the Red Crescent."

The Government is yet to indicate how much it will contribute to the UN's appeal.

"I think they would like to spend the funds that are gathered for Somalia in Somalia," Ms Mountain said, adding she hoped funds from the Red Crescent Authority's continuing telethons and campaigns would be channelled to the country, in coordination with the UN.

There has been a breakthrough in fundraising since last week after several countries, including the Emirates, began campaigns.

The telethons in the various emirates have raised tens of millions of dirhams, said Khaled Khalifa, the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Integrated Regional Information Network in Dubai.

"The telethons are making a huge impact in generating public interest, mobilising NGOs and raising funds," Mr Khalifa said.

"I don't think we would have reached this level without them. To save lives and stop the death toll we need the big organisations that can go in and save lives."

The UN agencies require US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) to stem the crisis, but have so far managed to raise only half of the amount.

In June, the UNHCR formally appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to contribute to its global fund.

Officials yesterday remembered the 240 aid workers who had been killed, injured, or abducted last year, as part of World Humanitarian Day.

"The core of humanitarian work is being accomplished on the ground in countries hit by extreme poverty, wars and natural disasters …" said Mohammed Diab, the director of donor relations in the Middle East for the World Food Programme.

pkannan@thenational.ae