- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

Aid pledges unmet
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued the organization's annual emergency appeal last week for 33 million people trapped in conflict and other disasters. The interagency appeal is for $2.5 billion this year, to cover 17 emergencies around the world.
Mr. Annan and humanitarian relief coordinators urged governments not to let Afghanistan overshadow the needs of other desperate people around the world, including those afflicted with drought, disease and other natural or man-wrought crises.
"The international community has a duty to provide life-saving assistance not only on the basis of which situation draws media attention, but also on the basis of agreed, definable minimum needs as outlined in today's appeals," he said.
The $2.5 billion would allow the World Food Program and other U.N. providers of humanitarian assistance to assist millions of civilians in Angola, Burundi, both Congos, the Horn of Africa, Tajikistan and North Korea.
Officials are concerned that the billions of dollars pledged or contemplated to rescue and then rebuild Afghanistan will syphon off contributions that are dwindling each year. The 2000 appeal was only half-funded.
"I don't think these appeals are ever 100 percent met, but the 2001 appeal, at only 50 percent, deserves to be singled out as a failing by the major donors," said U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard. "If you get half that amount, half the people go unaided, or people get only half of what they need."

Uranium issue shelved
The General Assembly last week refused to authorize a study on the health impacts of the depleted uranium bullets used by the United States during the Persian Gulf war, even though the Iraq-sponsored resolution had been approved by committee weeks before.
The Iraqis have long said that childhood leukemia and other cancers have risen in the southern part of the country, where U.S. forces used the heavy ordnance.
The U.S. mission lobbied fiercely against the resolution, said Ambassador John Negroponte, which was defeated 45-54, with 45 abstentions.
Talking points used by the U.S. diplomats last week stressed that depleted uranium is not carcinogenic, citing studies of industry workers and a NATO committee convened to study the risk. However, it said there are "few studies" of the impact of depleted uranium on humans.

The SG's new car
Mr. Annan got an early present. BMW's U.S. subsidiary has donated a top-of-the-line 750iL for his personal use, and had it custom-bulletproofed at the request of the United Nations. It's a gift that U.N. officials say is simple generosity, and not to be misconstrued as a marketing opportunity for the German company.
"He is not promoting any car," said spokesman Fred Eckhard, who noted that Mr. Annan's last vehicle was a loaner from Volvo.
"He is accepting the offer of a car from BMW. There is to be no promotional aspect to this. We're grateful for the donation."
The car manufacturer's publicity arm apparently didn't get the message. "We are very proud to welcome the United Nations and its highest ranking diplomat Mr. Annan as our new client," said BMW's head of international direct sales, Dr. Hans Wieland, in a statement distributed by e-mail, along with a computer image of Mr. Annan taking delivery of the black four-door sedan.
It's quite a gift. The base-version of the 12-cylinder $95,000 vehicle is so top-of-the-line that there are no optional upgrades to the audio system, leather interiors or instrumentation.
It's not clear if Mr. Annan, who travels with security, will even get to drive the car himself. But that's no hardship: The back seat is described by one car magazine as "more comfortable than your living room," complete with carpeted wedge-shaped foot-rests and individual temperature controls.
"I understand it's a sweet car," said spokesman Fred Eckhard with what only be described only as a boyish grin. "No one has yet had a ride in it."
He said the car needs to be fitted with custom lights, and won't be ready for a few weeks.
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at UNear@aol.com.


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