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Date: Fri, 24 Dec 1999 23:08:50 -0600 (CST)
From: IGC News Desk <newsdesk@igc.apc.org>
Subject: CONFLICT: Civilians at Risk in Global Warfare
Article: 85547
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.11117.19991225091527@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Civilians at Risk in Global Warfare

By Jim Wurst, IPS, 23 December 1999

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 23 (IPS)—The globalization of warfare has put civilians, particularly children and women, at risk while humanitarian favoritism threatened some of the world’s neediest people, according to two major humanitarian organizations.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)—in its report umanitarian Appeal for Children and Women 2000—said more than two million children had died in conflicts during the past 10 years. Some 300,000 child soldiers were being used worldwide and hundreds of thousands of others left homeless as a result of conflict.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), warning about the globalization of warfare said that while certain characteristics of modern conflict remained unchanged, the magnitude of the dilemmas was growing worse.

In releasing its report, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said, The key obstacle [to our work] is conflict and our ability to have access to children.

Other priorities were to help orphans and children separated from their parents, children suffering from trauma because of conflict, and confronting the issue of child soldiers, she said.

Humanitarian favoritism is UNICEF’s term for the trend of donating money only to emergencies that have immediate public attention.

We concerned about recent patterns in emergency giving that have substantially funded publicized crisis spots, while leaving many other areas of the world confronting similar, if not even more, comprehensive crises virtually wanting, Bellamy said.

While most of UNICEF’s funds came from governments, she said about one-third came from national committees of the agency, in other words, the general public.

It is very much the general public awareness whether it has an influence on government policy or influence on the average person, Bellamy observed. y Since most crises are protracted, public interest tends to drop off—such as in Sudan and Somalia. In the absence of the political will to bring about the peace, humanitarian efforts have to go on and donor fatigue needs to be challenged, Bellamy said.

UNICEF’s list of the most under-funded emergencies included: Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, North Korea, Tajikistan and Uganda.

Looking ahead to the coming year, Bellamy believed East Timor had the best chance of improvement while she was very worried about the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Beyond the deprivations caused by war, Bellamy highlighted the devastation caused by diseases such as AIDS, diarrhea and cholera, as well as natural disaster. The scale of natural emergencies is getting worse—in many cases because of human contributions to the natural emergencies, she noted.

An example of this was the effect that unplanned growth along Venezuela’s coastal areas had on the extent of damage during the massive floods in that country this week.

UNICEF was seeking nearly 230 million dollars for humanitarian emergencies for the year 2000. Bellamy noted that of the 334 million dollars requested for 1999, only 220 million had been received.

Jean-Daniel Tauxe of the International Red Cross said, while most of the current crises were foreseeable, they were still surprising because of their magnitude or timing.

The characteristics of current crises included their unpredictable nature, the escalation of crises, the resurgence of fighting, and stagnation, such as the long-running wars in Afghanistan and Somalia.

Tauxe, the ICRC Director of Operations, said the Committee was active in 60 countries, 21 of which were in a state of open conflict.

As the year draws to an end, there is no reason to believe that this tide of violence will recede in the year 2000, he said.

Georges Paclisanu, the spokesman for the Red Cross in New York, said 1999 was remarkable for the magnitude of what happened and that he was not much more optimistic for the new year.

He cited Kosovo as an example of this trend. While the conflict was foreseeable, he said, the overall conflict translated into a massive transfer of population. One million people were on the move in a matter of weeks. This magnitude was something that could not have been predicted, Paclisanu said.

The Red Cross appealed for nearly 560 million dollars for its operations for next year, with about half of its budget earmarked for Africa, in particular Central Africa.