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UAE vows to continue to reach out to victims of disasters

posted on 22/11/2007: 738 views

New York - The United Arab Emirates has re-affirmed its stance to continue to reach out to victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts in all parts of the world and urged all countries, particularly the advanced world and donor countries, to live up to their financial commitments to the various United Nations (UN) funds and institutions to enable them discharge effectively their humanitarian responsibilities.

Delivering the UAE address here last night before the UN General Assembly during a special meeting to discuss the best way to coordinate UN relief and humanitarian assistance in times of disaster, the UAE's Permanent Ambassador to the UN, Ahmed Al Jarman, first of all, expressed his country's deep condolences to the people and government of Bangladesh for the great loses of life and property as a result of the devastating cyclone which hit the country recently. He expressed the hope that the emergency relief assistance to Bangladesh would help alleviate the sufferings brought on the people by the natural disaster.

He cited the recent report of the UN Secretary General, which expected a high increase in humanitarian activities by the UN and its partners, including Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) in the years ahead due to high probability of the occurrence of natural disasters, particularly in the developing world.

"The reports of the Secretary General on this item indicate that the demand for humanitarian activities undertaken by the UN and its partners; NGOS concerned with humanitarian affairs, is expected to grow during the coming years due to the expected increase in the number of natural disasters, the severity of which increases, especially in developing countries, due to climate change, population growth and environmental degradation," he said in his address. "Its disastrous impact will be compounded by poverty, armed conflicts, the spread of diseases and the growing increase in numbers of displaced persons in many parts of the world will compound its impact. All of which will result in an increase in the size of the responsibilities shouldered by the United Nations and its relevant bodies and the need for more human and financial resources," he added.

He commended the humanitarian activities of the United Nations and its essential role in mobilising and coordinating the international efforts towards providing emergency humanitarian and relief assistance to millions in the affected areas and alleviating the impact of the disasters caused by natural phenomena and wars. "We urge all member states to strengthen their cooperation with the international organisation, especially by fulfilling their financial commitments to its agencies and organisations concerned with humanitarian assistance, and work with it in partnership to strengthen the necessary humanitarian arrangements on the national, regional and international level," He reiterated his country's call for the implementation of the recommendations of international conferences on the coordination of efforts for confronting disasters, at national and international levels by adopting effective strategies, including early warning, relief assistance, rebuilding and development.

"Furthermore, developing countries should bear their responsibilities to the implementation of these strategies while developed countries should fulfil their commitment to take all necessary measures to assist them in building their national capacities to deal with natural disasters and the aftermath of wars. We further stress that it is necessary that the UN humanitarian agencies and their partners should be allowed, by governments and relevant authorities, access during wars and natural disasters to those in need of assistance and measures should be taken to ensure the safety of humanitarian assistance employees," he stated.

"Believing in the importance of international solidarity at times of disasters and in the effectiveness of global partnership in achieving the best results in assistance during emergencies, the UAE has been very keen on fulfilling all its financial commitments to the UN bodies concerned with humanitarian assistance and development activities. The UAE has pledged to donate one million, five hundred and thirty eight thousand dollars (US$1,538,000) to those bodies for 2008," he disclosed.

He said his country was very keen in participating effectively in the coordination of international relief efforts, hence the establishment of the Dubai International Humanitarian City, which is one of the largest international centres to provide facilities and integrated logistic services to national, regional and international humanitarian organisations, adding that the UAE also joined in 2006, the donor group and donor support group which comprises the world's most active countries in humanitarian donations and works as an advisory body to OCHA.

The UAE is one of the most contributing countries in the field of humanitarian and relief assistance in emergencies and for the long term in many parts of the world. The UAE government and humanitarian organisations in the country, such as the UAE Red Crescent Authority, the Zayed Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works, the Al Maktoum Foundation and others, extend humanitarian assistance through donations in cash and in kind to affected countries," he stated, adding that these are being done in cooperation with the concerned UN bodies and programs and through direct bilateral arrangements with those countries.

"In the meantime, the UAE works with these countries to build their national capacities in dealing with natural disasters through financing and supporting programs, research and efforts aimed to enhance their capacities in predicting disasters, limiting their impacts and reinforcing their national infrastructure to be able to deal with them in the future," he noted, adding that the UAE's contribution, during the last three years, amounted to one billion dollars, allocated to support and enhance international efforts to assist the tsunami victims, and those affected by earthquakes and hurricanes in different parts of the world, besides its generous donations to the reconstruction of countries affected by armed conflicts, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He pointed out that the United Arab Emirates attaches great importance to the support and assistance for the Palestinian people and their government during their humanitarian crisis caused by the cruel and hostile policies of the Israeli occupying forces. He said the UAE's direct assistance to the Palestinians during the last five years amounted to more than one billion dollars, in addition to other humanitarian assistance extended to them through UN agencies, to meet their essential and urgent requirements, and to rebuild the cities destroyed by Israel's continuous aggression. "In this regard, the UAE, has doubled its contribution to the UNRWA for 2008, and paid 80 million dollars last August to help support the budget of the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile the relief and services projects carried out in Palestine by the UAE Red Crescent Authority, has exceeded 122 million dollars, in addition to other assistance in kind," he elaborated.

He said the UAE is deeply concerned over the aggravation of the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian land as a result of the continuing Israeli attacks on the people, properties and the infrastructure; the policies of siege and blockades imposed by the Israeli occupying forces on the people, denying them access to humanitarian assistance. "This is causing a serious humanitarian catastrophe in the Palestinian occupied territories," he added.

"While we laud the role played by the UN and its concerned bodies in assisting the Palestinian people, we reaffirm the need to compel Israel, the occupying state, to end its aggression and crimes immediately; lift its siege on the Palestinians; comply with the legitimate international resolutions and the international humanitarian laws and to resume peace negotiations on the basis of the relevant international resolutions and the Arab Peace initiative," he stated.

"We further call on donor countries to boost their assistance to the Palestinian people and government in order to alleviate their suffering in anticipation of the end of the Israeli occupation of their land and the establishment of their independent Palestinian state with Al Quds al Asharif (Jerusalem) as its capital," he said. "Until that is achieved, we reaffirm our support of the continuous mandate of the UNRWA to discharge its responsibilities for providing services for the refugees in all regions of its operations," he added. "We believe it is necessary to maintain the financial support for the regular and urgent activities of the agency in order to fulfil its commitments towards the Palestinian refugees," he concluded. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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