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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/9663
19 November 1999


NEED FOR EFFECTIVE EMERGENCY DISASTER-RESPONSE CAPABILITY
STRESSED AS ASSEMBLY WEIGHS HUMANITARIAN, DISASTER-RELIEF ASSISTANCE

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly meets this morning to begin consideration of the "Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance". It has before it a number of related reports and resolutions which it is expected to take action on.

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“White Helmets" Initiative

According to the Secretary-General's report (document A/54/217) the "White Helmets" initiative established by Argentina with the aim of promoting the concept of pre-identified, standby and trained teams of volunteers, was highly appreciated by recipients, country offices, individuals and organizations. A number of successful activities had been carried by the White Helmets Commission/United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in various countries, including the introduction of low-cost dwellings in Rwanda and the Balkans and promoting sports as a vehicle for social development in the autonomous areas of the occupied Palestinian territory and Lebanon.

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Assistance to Palestinian People

The report of the Secretary-General (document A/54/134) covers the assistance activities to the Palestinians for the period from June 1998 through May 1999.

The report states that throughout the period under review, the Special Coordinator in the occupied territories maintained efforts to fulfil the mandate of his office, and focused on continuing preoccupations relating to facilitating the socio-economic development of the occupied Palestinian territory by such means as ensuring better coordination between relevant institutions of the Palestinian Authority and United Nations agencies and the donor community; strengthening the rule of law and other institution-building programmes; monitoring and documenting socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory; providing logistic and other assistance to the Palestinian Authority; and encouraging expeditious donor disbursement to facilitate the implementation of the Palestinian Development Plan (1999-2003).

The report states that the United Nations presence in the occupied Palestinian territory has increased from three organizations in 1993 to 13 in 1999. An additional 16 organizations of the United Nations systems are providing the Palestinian Authority with technical assistance and expertise. On 30 November 1998, the Conference to support Middle East Peace and Development, held in Washington D.C., resulted in pledges totalling $3.36 billion to be disbursed over a two five-year period.

The report also covers: work of local and international coordination mechanisms; living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories; assistance to the Palestinian peoples; ongoing programmes, unmet needs and proposals for additional assistance.

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