Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)


  1.  A statement made by Mrs Bellamy during the testimony portrays our long-term goals when it comes not just to Afghanistan, but all crises we are co-ordinating. Quote: "Emergencies do not start and stop very quickly any more, maybe it is a substitute for the lack of political will in some places. . . . . . . . I think sometimes we would be glad to have ourselves put out of work in some of these places if there could be, with all due respect, the intervention that perhaps the international community needs." (Q. 181)

  2.   Afghanistan has faced a major crisis over the last 23 years. First, with the Soviet occupation, then in-fighting between the various groups over the last 10 years. This has had a catastrophic effect on the society and the health and the welfare of millions of individual Afghans. As long as the necessary stability and National Government structures are not in place the support of Humanitarian agencies and OCHA will continue to be necessary.

  3.  Jointly with other humanitarian and development partners OCHA is already preparing for a transitional phase from humanitarian assistance to reconstruction. To this end we are working closely in programming with our development partners. This planning is contingent upon the evolving political and security situation in Afghanistan. Please refer to the attached documents Interim Review—30-day Operational Assistance Plan and A Preliminary Strategy for the Transition from Relief to Development in Afghanistan (not printed).


  4.  Although OCHA is part of the UN Secretariat it receives currently only 11% from the UN Regular Budget. Most of its requirements are met from voluntary contributions from member states (extra-budgetary sources in UN terminology). This includes the cost of field offices which are also reflected also in UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals.

  5.  OCHA annually publishes a document describing its activities and expected requirements. These needs vary with the number and magnitude of crises OCHA is tasked to co-ordinate, which cover natural disasters as well as complex emergencies. Punctual appeals are often necessary as emergencies occur, especially for natural disasters.

  6.  On 27 November 2001, appeals were launched by the UN Secretary-General and UN Agencies and partners for 18 complex emergencies (including Afghanistan) to reach 33 million persons made vulnerable by conflict. A launching event was held in London by the Executive Director of UNICEF together with the Department for International Development. The needs for these 18 crises are estimated at US$ 2.5 billion, which includes the needs for six months in response to the Afghanistan crisis. Summary information on the countries in crisis is attached (not printed).

United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

6 December 2001

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