UN Economic and Social Council aims to strengthen relief aid coordination

USG Jan Egeland

19 July 2006 – The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), meeting in Geneva, has adopted a resolution that would strengthen the coordination of the world body’s humanitarian assistance.

Unanimously adopted on Tuesday, the text calls on States and the UN to extensively draw on local resources and expertise in responding to emergencies. It also emphasizes the need to prepare better to deal with emergencies as well as ways to reduce the risk that disasters can cause.

To address the need of uneven funding for humanitarian crisis, the resolution asks the international community to provide relief assistance in proportion to needs and on the basis of assessments so there could be a more equitable distribution of aid.

“The international community seems able to tolerate problems in some areas which are decried in others,” Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the Council. He said more needs to be done to improve funding, including better appeals, better needs assessment, better advocacy and better response “so there is absolutely no doubt that every penny was going to real, undisputed humanitarian needs, and that every penny would be effective.”

Egeland said there had been improvement, and that “the world is moving in the right direction,” but cautioned that progress was not being made fast enough. “Children are still dying of hunger, and this makes it clear that there is something fundamentally wrong with the pace of what was being done.”

In a related development, ECSOC President Ali Hachani, Tunisia, at a press conference Tuesday, said that the Council would remain actively involved in pursuing the agreement reached on the main theme of this year’s ministerial segment, attended by 30 ministers and three prime ministers, on promoting full employment and decent work.

He said the focus on employment was particularly pertinent as 192 million people were unemployed globally and half of the world's labour force is not earning enough to lift itself out of poverty. “This theme is of critical importance to all countries,” he said. “In fact, the world is facing a structural crisis of unemployment.”

An even more critical aspect of this theme, he said, was youth employment. While youth make up 23 per cent of the work force, some 50 per cent of them are unemployed. “This has serious implications for the future of our societies,” he said.

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