UNAMSIL Press Briefing, 27 Nov 2001
MS. MARGARET NOVICKI - UNAMSIL SPOKESMAN AND
MAJ. MOHAMMED YERIMA - UNAMSIL MILITARY SPOKESMAN
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN LAUNCHES APPEAL TO HELP 33 MILLION VULNERABLE PEOPLE WORLDWIDE
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday launched a $2.5 billion appeal to help 33 million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection - a move that was immediately welcomed by the members of the Security Council.
"The 2.5 billion dollars that we are seeking today is a large amount - but it is far less than what the world spends on military purposes in a single day," the Secretary-General told donors gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the launch of the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals. The meeting was also addressed by the President of the Security Council, who offered that body's support for the UN's quest to fund its relief efforts.
Mr. Annan noted that the world was currently focused on the plight of Afghans who, along with more than 30 million war- and drought affected people around the world, would have suffered through yet another winter "largely off camera" had it not been for recent events. "Is it not ironic that it took a terrorist attack and military reaction to raise awareness of the vast humanitarian needs in Afghanistan?" he asked.
While welcoming donor efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, the Secretary-General urged those present not to forget the 17 other complex humanitarian crises identified in the UN appeals. "In Angola, Somalia and Sudan, long-running civil wars continue to threaten already fragile livelihoods," he noted. And while the past year had brought new hope for the future in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, "massive humanitarian assistance remains urgently needed."
Mr. Annan noted that the Consolidated Appeals Process served to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian programmes to reach people in the greatest need. By coordinating their efforts through the Appeals, UN agencies ensured that food was not provided without safe water to prepare it, and that other necessities for survival, including vaccinations against killer diseases, were not forgotten. The process also worked to make sure that "meeting urgent needs today does not compromise the capacity of a community to help itself when the immediate crisis has passed."
"No matter how good our strategy, or how well we prioritize, the United Nations and its partners cannot fulfil their commitments to millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance without the financial and political support of the Member States," the Secretary-General told donors, noting that the 2001 appeal was met with only 50 per cent of the required amount. "We must do better next year, and I repeat my appeal that we should forget no one who depends on us for help and for hope."
Echoing these sentiments, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, told donors that their contributions would restore hope and erase despair. "The investment you make today will not only help save lives, it will set the basis for self-sufficiency for people and their communities," she told the meeting, which also heard from individuals who had personally witnessed humanitarian crises in Kosovo and Ethiopia.
In a separate press statement on behalf of members of the Council, Ambassador Durrant urged all States to give generously to the appeals. "Members of the Council recognize that gaining access to vulnerable populations and the increasing need to engage with armed groups is one of the key challenges facing humanitarian agencies," she said, noting that such access was "sporadically granted or even bluntly denied." Council members called on all States to respect the recognized rules of international humanitarian law, and to facilitate the work of aid agencies carrying out their work, Ambassador Durrant said.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNAN PROPOSES MEASURE TO SPUR UN ACTION TO HELP POOREST COUNTRIES
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended the establishment of an Office of the High Representative to deal with the world's poorest nations, as well as landlocked developing countries and small island States.
The proposal came in a report by Mr. Annan to the General Assembly on a mechanism to follow up the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) over the coming decade.
The New York-based High Representative, who would be appointed at the level of Under-Secretary-General, would assist the Secretary-General in following up the action plan.
The goal of that Programme is to arrest the further deterioration in the socio-economic situation of the least developed countries, and to reactivate and accelerate their growth and development.
UNHCR REPRESENTATIVES IN REGION CALL ON UNAMSIL FORCE COMMANDER
A delegation of representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Force Commander of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Opande. The representatives are in the country to acquaint themselves with UNAMSIL's activities and to assess the status of refugees in the Mano River Union.
The Force Commander briefed the delegation on the general security situation in the mission area, including the ongoing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, pointing out that only two districts, Kenema and Kailahun, remain to be disarmed. He informed them that because of the improved security situation, UNHCR could ask Sierra Leonean refugees to return home.
Lt. Gen. Opande reiterated UNAMSIL's commitment in assisting the Government of Sierra Leone in the collection and destruction of short guns that are not covered under the current disarmament programme. He also stressed that UNAMSIL will assist the Government in conducting the national elections and in the return of refugees.
The UNHCR Representative in Sierra Leone, Arnauld Akodjenou, led the delegation.
ACTING SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE CALLS FOR A CULTURE OF SAFETY AMONG UNAMSIL PERSONNEL
As part of the United Nations campaign to raise awareness on safety and security issues among its personnel, UNAMSIL on 23 November observed UN Safety Stand-down Day through various activities focusing on air, road and workplace safety. On that day, no UNAMSIL flights, with the exception of only emergency or essential flights, took place.
Addressing staff at UNAMSIL Headquarters in Freetown, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Behrooz Sadry, said that the UN as a whole and UNAMSIL leadership "are committed to instituting all practical and feasible measures to prevent aircraft, road and work-related accidents, and to the best of our ability, to preserve the life, limb and property of our personnel."
He called for the adoption of a safety code that should become "our personal mantra: 'Be alert and be safety conscious 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.'" The Acting Special Representative appealed to UNAMSIL staff to engender a culture of safety, and urged them to put into practice the information at their disposal, emphasizing that listening to briefings or reading up on the relevant precautions was not enough.
As part of the UN's goal of preventing aircraft, road and work-related accidents, UNAMSIL will also dedicate today, 27 November, as an Aviation Safety and Security Awareness Campaign Day and Wednesday, 28 November, as a Road and Workplace Safety Awareness Campaign Day. UNAMSIL Force Commander Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Opande has also instructed all military sectors throughout the country to observe the safety campaigns.
FORCE COMMANDER VISITS NIGERIAN PEACEKEEPERS IN WILBERFORCE AND GODERICH
The UNAMSIL Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, on 23 November paid a working visit to Nigerian Battalions (NIBATT) 9 and 10 stationed at Goderich Barracks and Wilberforce in Freetown.
At Goderich Barracks, Lt. Gen. Opande congratulated NIBATT 9 peacekeepers for their timely deployment and for integrating well with the Sierra Leone Army. He encouraged them to interact freely with the soldiers as well as the local people. The Force Commander acknowledged their level of training and state of preparedness and instructed them to operate within UNAMSIL's mandate in discharging their duties. In his message to mark UN Safety Stand-down Day, the Force Commander reminded the peacekeepers to observe safety rules and cautioned drivers to be vigilant.
Later during the day, Lt. Gen. Opande visited NIBATT 10 peacekeepers at Wilberforce, where the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. A. M. Shehu, briefed him on the security situation in the area. The Force Commander urged the peacekeepers to be diligent in their duties and not to relent in their efforts to maintain peace in the Freetown Peninsula. He reminded them that their main task was to bring the parties to the conflict and the people closer, which would be a yardstick of their success.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Christo Johnson-Reuters News Agency: What efforts has UNAMSIL made for disarmament to start in Kailahun town and Tongo Fields?
Ms. Margaret Novicki: As you know, agreements have been reached at the series of Tripartite Meetings on the disarmament process. There were some delays in Kailahun and Kenema due to logistical problems first of all. The timetable that was adopted by the parties to the conflict, as well as UNAMSIL, was a very ambitious one. As I said, we hope we will be able to complete disarmament by the end of November. But that was really a target date. Indeed, the logistical requirements of getting the camps up and running in Kenema and Kailahun proved to be rather difficult. But those problems have being sorted out already and we expect disarmament to continue.
As you are aware, the RUF did not start disarming as of yesterday, as we had expected, and we have had, through our forces on the ground, reasons put forward by the RUF for this delay in the disarmament process. Our troops on the ground, including sector commanders and commanding officers in various locations, have met with RUF officials to discuss what the problems are and we expect these issues once they have been raised will enable us to go ahead with the disarmament process in the very soonest possible time.
Clarence Roy-Macaulay-Associated Press: What are the reasons raised by the RUF?
Ms. Margaret Novicki: I think you are aware that at various points in time different political issues have been raised. But again these issues have also been discussed in context of the Tripartite Meetings and we believe that that is the proper avenue for these issues to be raised and resolved. And indeed as I said before, the parties to the conflict have committed themselves to this timetable for disarmament and we do expect that it will go ahead.
Christo Johnson-Reuters News Agency: Are saying that the RUF is reneging on what was agreed on in the last Tripartite Meeting?
Ms. Margaret Novicki: We expect that those agreements that are reached in the Tripartite Meeting should be respected. Sometimes there are some delays in disarmament process getting under way. We have experienced that in other regions and districts. Nonetheless, we do expect that all parties to the conflict adhere to the various communiqués they have signed.
Abdul Kposowa-Standard Times Newspaper: What are these logistical problems you are referring to?
Ms. Margaret Novicki: In the disarmament process, we set target dates district by district--when we expect disarmament to begin in a district and when we expect it to end. What we have found is that combatants are continuing to come in after we have projected that disarmament will end in a given area. So a number of DDR camps remained open even after the target date. This has created a burden on the administrative capacity of the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR) that maintains these camps. NCDDR has a limited amount of staff and limited means to keep these camps up and running. And again Kailahun is a very remote area, where roads are virtually non-existent and where transport is very big problem. So establishing a camp there took a longer time than expected. That is what I referred to as logistical problems.
For additional information, contact UNAMSIL Public Information Office: UNAMSIL Headquarters, Mammy Yoko, P. O. Box 5, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Tel: 232-22-273-183/4/5 Fax: 232-22-273-189
Not an official document of the United Nations. Maintained by the Peace and Security Section of the Department of Public Information in cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
(c) United Nations 2001