Donors Urged to Prepare for 2006 after 'Year of Disaster'

The head of the United Nations food aid agency described this year as the most demanding on humanitarian aid since World War II, appealing to donors to prepare for the needs in 2006.

James Morris, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program, listed the Asian tsunami, plague of locusts in Africa, conflict in Darfur, Hurricane Katrina and Stan, and the massive quake in Kashmir as some of the giant demands for aid this year.

“The fact is that 2005 was an exceptional year of disaster for millions of people across the world,” Morris said on a Dec. 28 U.N. News Center report.

“None of us knows what 2006 will bring. We can hope for a calmer year, with timely rainfall and limited seismic activity. But we have to prepare for every eventuality. And if that means appealing for even more funding from our donors, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing,” he said.

The head of the U.N. food aid agency also expressed concerns about the dangerous shortage in funding for WFP operations such as for the Pakistan quake and to feed people in southern Africa.

For example, its appeal for $100 million to provide air support for U.N. relief operations in Pakistan is less than half funded, while its operation to feed some 10 million people in southern Africa is more than $100 million short of the $317 million needed by April 2006, according to the United Nations.

In spite of the U.N.’s funding shortage, many disaster survivors’ needs were met through receiving aid from faith-based organizations.

World Vision, for example, was recognized for its excellence as a top service provider for the tsunami in Indonesia and India by beneficiaries that ranked WV even higher than government agencies in Indonesia.

The tsunami response by WV included supporting close to 200 Child Friendly Spaces, funding jobs for 12,000 people, and helping some 13,000 families restore their livelihoods and financial stability. The organization alone received $63.6 million in private donations for the tsunami.

Pakistan quake victims were also beneficiaries of aid from many Christian groups, including Church World Service and Action by Churches Together, which together distributed 19,000 tents and 6,130 sheets, 8,630 food packages, 33,849 blankets and quilts, and 1,000 tin sheets.

The Salvation Army Southern Territory, meanwhile, responded to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma by serving 5,433,929 hot meals, distribute 157,957 cleaning kits (brooms, bucket, mop, and detergent), and 192,397 food boxes (groceries).

Mary Marr, founder and CEO of the Christian Emergency Network – which includes ministries such as The Salvation Army, Operation Blessing, the Rapid Response teams of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Convoy of Hope – said in November that “with government winding down assistance efforts, the church has an opportunity – and responsibility – to show the love of Christ by partnering with ministries serving disaster victims.”

“Our ministry partners are committed to not leaving until every need has been met. For that to happen, they need the support of Christians everywhere,” Marr concluded in CEN’s most recent press statement.