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General Assembly - 63 Session, Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian
11 November 2008 / 10:58



Mr. Anwar Al Barout The Chargé d'Affaires, a.i., of
the UAE Mission to the UN





Mr. President,

Allow me at the outset, on behalf of the delegation of the United Arab Emirates, to convey to the President of the General Assembly our deep gratitude and appreciation for his efforts in steering the work of this session; we wish him every success. I would also like to associate myself with the statement delivered by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

We have followed closely the reports of the Secretary-General on United Nations humanitarian activities, which spell out the seriousness of the challenges facing the Organization in this field imposed by the growing number of people in need of emergency and humanitarian relief assistance due to the frequency of natural disasters, the impact and devastation of which are especially exacerbated in developing and poor countries. Moreover, the global financial and food crises have had serious repercussions for millions of people in countries already suffering from poverty, the negative impact of climate change, armed conflicts and serious diseases. All of this calls for increased efforts by the United Nations and its relevant partners to meet the growing need for humanitarian assistance, and emphasizes the urgent need to supply the Organization with financial and human resources necessary to discharge its growing responsibilities.

In this context, I would like to emphasize my country’s support for the people and Government of brotherly Yemen in the crisis following the recent floods in that country. I would like to reiterate our support for draft resolution A/63/L.21, introduced by the representative of Yemen, on providing special economic assistance to Yemen. We have already begun to provide urgent relief assistance to Yemen since the floods occurred last month.

The United Arab Emirates emphasizes the essential role of the United Nations and commends its valuable work in mobilizing and coordinating international efforts to provide humanitarian emergency relief assistance for millions in the affected areas. We recognize that international partnership and cooperation with the Organization are the most effective way to ensure the optimal results for humanitarian activities in different parts of the world.
My country has thus been eager to coordinate many of its humanitarian initiatives and contributions with the United Nations and its specialized agencies through bilateral partnerships and direct collaboration in implementing many emergency relief and long-term projects in countries affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts. As a member of the Donor Support Group of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), we have contributed to enhancing OCHA’s work, thus strengthening the efforts of the Organization in the humanitarian field so it can achieve greater efficiency when providing relief in emergencies.

Besides honouring its many financial commitments to the United Nations entities concerned with humanitarian assistance and development activities by contributing more than $1 million annually, the Government of the United Arab Emirates, together with a number of charity foundations, including the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society, contributes to all international assistance for people in affected areas in all parts of the world. Our contributions over the past three years have amounted to more than $1 billion, in addition to other contributions directed towards the reconstruction of countries affected by armed conflicts, including Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the same time, we collaborate with United Nations major funds, programmes and agencies to finance and coordinate the implementation of a number of relief and development projects in those countries. In order to mitigate the effects of increasing food prices in the global markets, over the past few months we have sent tons of wheat and food products to many affected countries.

Furthermore, my country plays a major role in coordinating and strengthening international relief efforts by providing highly efficient logistics facilities on our land, such as the Dubai International Humanitarian City, one of the world’s largest centres providing integrated logistics facilities and services to local, regional and international humanitarian organizations and agencies. In 2007, the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent signed an agreement with the United Nations Office for Project Services to provide logistical support to ensure the more efficient and effective delivery of relief supplies to persons affected by natural disasters and other crises, especially in Africa and Asia. Recently, we established an office for the coordination of foreign assistance, the first of its kind in the Middle East, in order to coordinate with United Nations entities and donor countries, at the international level, with a view to enhancing and accelerating our response to emergencies and emerging conditions in affected areas.

We emphasize the importance of implementing the recommendations and resolutions of all international conferences on national and international strategies for dealing with disasters and their aftermath at all stages, including by urging developing countries to shoulder their responsibilities in implementing such strategies and encouraging developed counties to fulfil their commitments to assist developing countries to build national capacity to deal with natural disasters and the aftermath of armed conflicts. We have worked with some countries that receive our assistance to build their national capacity to deal with disasters through financing and other support for programmes and research aimed at enhancing their ability to predict disasters and contain their aftermath and to strengthen infrastructure.

At the national level, we have taken all the necessary measures to implement those recommendations, such as launching a crisis management and emergency response project aimed at setting up an integrated local response mechanism for emergencies and environmental disasters. In addition, we are committed to implementing an environmental strategy that will reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

The United Arab Emirates attaches particular importance to supporting and assisting the Palestinian people and their Government during the humanitarian crisis caused by the cruel, aggressive policies of the Israeli occupying forces. My country holds a firm and principled position in its support of the legitimate and inalienable political rights of the Palestinian people and supports the Palestinian National Authority. We have translated this political and moral position into action, with continuous material and economic support that has included emergency humanitarian, development and technical assistance.

Our assistance to the Palestinians from 1994 to mid-2008 is estimated at $4.2 billion, including our pledge at the Paris Donor Conference of $300 million to rebuild Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and for housing projects in Gaza, Jenin and the West Bank as well as our pledge in Vienna to contribute to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon. In September of this year, the head of State of the United Arab Emirates ordered the disbursal of $5 million as urgent assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to help meet the needs of refugees in the camps.