U.N. Appeals for Relief Funds

From Associated Press

The United Nations appealed for $1.7 billion Thursday to help 26 million people suffering in some of the world’s forgotten disaster zones.

For months, international attention has focused on such spots as Iraq and Sudan’s Darfur region, but Burundi, Russia’s Chechnya region, Eritrea and many other places face dire problems, Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said.

The appeal seeks help for 14 crisis areas, 11 of them in Africa. Among the worst is northern Uganda, which has as many internally displaced people -- 1.6 million -- as Darfur, Egeland said.

The rebel Lord’s Resistance Army is reported to have kidnapped about 22,000 children in 18 years of fighting in Uganda, keeping them as sex slaves, fighters and porters.


“Others have died in wars, others died due to diseases, and of course many of them died due to sexual abuse,” said Angelina Atyam, whose daughter recently escaped after eight years in the rebel group’s captivity, along with two daughters born during the ordeal. “Our area, our region, has been left behind ... in all ways,” said Atyam, who heads a parents group and was present at the news conference.

Last year, donor countries contributed only 52% of the $3 billion the world body sought for 30 countries.

This year, the appeal cut down requests for development and reconstruction, and focused on the most urgent needs, including food, sanitation and mine-clearing.

The U.N. plans separate appeals later this year for Sudan and other major trouble spots.