Botswana + 2 more

Annan backs regional approach to flood-hit southern Africa

Highlights of the Noon Briefing
By Fred Eckhard
Spokesman for the Secretary-General
UN Headquarters, New York
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been on the phone with President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique concerning the international response to the floods in that country. He also spoke today with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, which has played a leading role in airlifting victims from treetops and rooftops to safety.

South Africa will host a meeting in Pretoria on Friday, with participants from not only Mozambique, but also other countries affected by the heavy rains and flooding -- notably Botswana and Zimbabwe -- in order to take a regional approach, the Secretary-General said today.

Ross Mountain, whom the Secretary-General has designated as his humanitarian coordinator for this emergency, will attend that Pretoria meeting.

The Secretary-General has also been in touch with potential donors. He had discussions with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer Wednesday morning and then with U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke later in the day. Once the Pretoria participants identify the priority needs, it is hoped that targeted assistance will follow.