UN reports over 2 billion in pledges for the tsunami relief effort

That was more than all of the pledges to all humanitarian appeals in 2004 combined, Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York. The international compassion had never ever been like this, Mr. Egeland said, noting that Japan’s extremely generous pledge of $500 million was the biggest so far. There were also huge pledges from the United States and the World Bank for the recovery and rehabilitation phase, as well as from the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom, Sweden, China, the European Union, and many other partners.He said that the United Nations was coordinating efforts now with hundreds of relief organizations, in addition to the half dozen or so big UN humanitarian agencies involved.Highlighting some of the most urgent needs of the relief effort, Mr. Egeland repeated his plea for very concrete assistance, such as helicopter carriers for use outside the coasts to prevent clogging the inland airstrips, and five air traffic control units to assist in making small, damaged airstrips some of the busiest airports in the world. Mr. Egeland said the hardest-hit places were Sumatra and Aceh, possibly accounting for three fourths of all casualties, even though it was impossible to give a total casualty figure. His estimate today was over 150,000 dead, but he stressed it would never be known how many people had been washed to sea and would never be found. However, it was clear, he said, that as a result of the disaster millions of people had lost their “near and dear” ones. read more

First of 33000 Congolese refugees relocated to new settlement in Angola –

Addressing journalists in Geneva, Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the Lóvua settlement was created “to improve the living conditions of refugees.”Built on about 33 km2 of land allocated by the Government of Angola, the site allows refugees to receive a plot of land to build shelters and to grow food to supplement their food rations.UNHCR and partners plan to relocate tens of thousands of Congolese refugees to the new site, which is some 100 km inland from the border with the DRC.“While the security situation in the Kasai region remains volatile, the Angolan authorities and UNHCR with partners are ready to provide protection and assistance for up to 50,000 Congolese refugees by the end of 2017 at Lóvua,” Mr. Edwards said.Some 33,000 refugees are currently in reception centres that Mr. Edwards termed “over-crowded.”The UN agency has called for financial support to assist the refugees. A humanitarian appeal for $65.5 million launched in June is only about 32 per cent funded.“Additional funding is urgently needed to continue developing infrastructure and services for refugees in Lóvua settlement,” Mr. Edwards said. read more