Tuesday, November 01, 2005

UNHCR considering leaving

Lack of funds delaying relief operations - At least one United Nations relief agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is considering packing up and leaving if it doesn’t get the $30 million needed to manage relief camps in November.

“The organisation is operating on borrowed money from other relief agencies,” UNHCR Communications Manager Vivan Tan told Daily Times. She said UNHCR had utilised $15 million of the borrowed money and had received only $4 million out of the $30 million required. “We will try and pull through as long as possible, another two to three weeks, but after that we will have no other choice,” she added.

UNHCR is looking after the most vital area of relief, camp management, in earthquake-affected areas. “We see more and more people coming down from the hills for help but there is little we can offer them at the moment,” said the spokesperson. The UN has asked for around 600,000 tents to accommodate earthquake survivors but has received only 140,000 tents, with 200,000 more in the pipeline.

“Relief agencies have started working on different non-tent options to fight the cold weather, such as corrugated iron sheets, mud walls and plastic sheeting, but all plans are stuck because of the lack of funds,” said Tan. She said that Pakistani agencies were aware of the situation but not much could be done. “Our financial source is money committed against the UN flash appeal of $580 million.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations said that international aid agencies had received less than one quarter of the funding they need for emergency relief for Pakistan.

Source: AFP via Daily Times
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