United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched an appeal for almost $4 billion to provide food, water, medicine and other emergency assistance to help millions of people struggling to survive in areas of conflict and natural disasters in 29 countries or regions in 2007.“These 27 million individuals seek not a hand out, but a hand up… For 2007, such assistance amounts to $3.9 billion for basic life-sustaining humanitarian aid and protection – or approximately the same price as two cups of coffee for each citizen in the wealthy countries of the world,” Mr. Annan said at UN Headquarters in New York.The Humanitarian Appeal 2007 is made up of 13 consolidated appeals for specific emergencies involving UN agencies, some 140 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as other international and local organizations seeking assistance. Aid to African countries dominates the appeal, with operations in Sudan seen requiring over $1.2 billion, the highest amount.“This year Africa remains the continent most in need. Yet previous Appeal funds have made a remarkable difference. With your help, my fellow Africans are transforming despair into hope, and hatred into healing. They are resourceful and resilient, and they deserve our continued strong support,” Mr. Annan said, in what will be his last yearly appeal as Secretary-General.The 2007 Appeal seeks humanitarian funding for the following crises: Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the occupied Palestinian territory, West Africa, Uganda, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Burundi, the Great Lakes Region, Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic (CAR), and the Republic of Congo.It is also asking for less money than last year, which sought $4.7 billion and received – as of October – $3 billion for operations that helped the UN and its humanitarian partners feed 97 million people in 82 countries, including 6.5 million people in Sudan, as well as provide vaccinations and other essentials worldwide, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.“I think it’s a sign that the world is getting better, that we’re actually asking for fewer dollars for a reduced number of countries,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told reporters after the appeal’s launch.“It’s important to recognize that the process producing these appeals has never been more comprehensive: 140 humanitarian organizations participate in these consolidated appeals… that’s nearly 40 more than last year so this is a process that goes way beyond the UN system,” he said.However Mr. Egeland noted that while the world’s response has got better to emergencies, particularly since the setting up of the multi-million dollar UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) earlier this year, he also called for greater effort and pointed out that last year’s appeal was still only 63 per cent funded.“Our main appeal today was: it cannot continue with half-funding, two-thirds funding, the hat going around. And in some places we are doing fine – like we had oversubscription for the Lebanon crisis flash appeal this year… but then there are other places, like the Horn of Africa where we got only one third, 34 per cent.”“One of the ways that we would be fully funded, would be if the rich countries all are equally generous… the top one is Sweden… [but] we’re asking nobody to really bankrupt themselves for this, we’re asking for a minimum of generosity from everybody predictably. If the rich countries gave 1 cent per $100 of their gross national product… we would be fully funded.”Also speaking to reporters after the appeal’s launch was Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP), who stressed the importance of donor contributions and what it means to those most in need.“That’s the scary thought, just the difference between life and death is what we’re asking for here today… [when] I think of how many people we’re talking about dying it seems so overwhelming but if you can just remember one person you’ve lost and the pain that losing one person makes you feel then it does put the rest in a bit of perspective.”Participating in the launch ceremony alongside Mr. Annan and the other officials was Dr. Denis Mukwege, Director of the Panzi Hospital in the DRC, the next highest country after Sudan in terms of requests for assistance, with organizations asking for $687 million from the 2007 Appeal.