UN receives $350 million in aid relief donations

Fifty donors pledged nearly US$350 million (€263 million) to a fund that is helping the United Nations respond quickly to emergencies from the war in Lebanon to drought in Afghanistan and the recent typhoon in the Philippines. The UN General Assembly upgraded the fund last December after world leaders decided to make up to US$500 million (€376 million) available so the world body could respond quickly to conflicts and disasters anywhere in the world instead of waiting for donors to respond to appeals for help. "We've gone from having a total lottery of whether there would be money or not for life-saving activity to a well-funded vehicle that can provide immediate funding to operations," UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said at a news conference Thursday following a high-level meeting with potential donors. "I think this is an example that the United Nations can reform, is willing to reform, but also has to reform," he said.