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UN raises US$15 mln to aid quake areas
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Organs of the United Nations (UN) in China has raised about US$15 million in donations from the international community for the country's earthquake-hit areas, an official for the organization announced in Beijing on Friday.

Contributions of nearly US$11 million came from commitments pledged by the European Union and the governments of Canada, Belgium, Norway and Saudi Arabia, said Khalid Malik, the UN Resident Coordinator in China.

The UN had mobilized another US$4 million from its own resources and private donors, he said.

"We are very grateful for the contributions of the four nations and the European Union," he said. "They will help the survivors of the earthquake recover their livelihoods, return to school and to have more sustainable access to health care and better living conditions."

He said the funds would support the most vulnerable survivors living in remote areas hit by the quake who had received basic assistance but required much more comprehensive aid over the next six months as the reconstruction got fully underway and before winter set in.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake centered on Wenchuan County in southwestern Sichuan Province killed more than 69,000 people. Another 17,000 were listed as missing. Some 25,000 aftershocks had been recorded.

The UN launched a donation project on July 16, appealing to the international community to contribute US$33.5 million to the quake zone. The project, or the UN China Appeal for the Wenchuan Earthquake Early Recovery Support, was designed to bridge the phases of immediate relief assistance with the longer-term process of reconstruction, Malik said.

He stressed more efforts were required.

"We have emphasized from the beginning that the needs are simply tremendous. We very much hope these contributions will mark the beginning -- a first step -- of increased support for the appeal from the international community," he said.

Several sectors of the appeal required additional financing, including livelihood, health, nutrition and HIV/AIDS, ethnic minorities, protection of vulnerable groups and the environment, he said.

The appeal is part of the UN's overall efforts to assist the people and communities affected in Sichuan and other quake-hit provinces.

The UN organs in China had delivered more than US$18 million in emergency relief to the affected population in the quake zone, and was working closely with the government and the international community to assist in the reconstruction, he added.

(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2008)

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