62nd Plenary Meeting of General Assembly: 51st Session - Part 1

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21-Nov-1996 01:34:53
Safety and freedom of movement of humanitarian workers in Liberia focus of draft text introduced in General Assembly at 62nd plenary meeting of the 51st session.

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Assembly Begins Consideration of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance.

The General Assembly would deplore all attacks on and intimidation of United Nations personnel and other organizations staff working in Liberia, by the terms of one of two draft resolutions introduced this morning as it began consideration of coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

The Assembly would also emphasize the urgent need for the Liberian factions and their leaders to ensure the complete freedom of movement of United Nations and other humanitarian workers and to take all measures conducive to the successful resolution of the conflict. In addition to requesting the Secretary-General to mobilize assistance for the reconstruction and development of Liberia, the Assembly would call upon him to conduct needs assessment in preparation for a donor conference. The representative of Cameroon introduced that draft on behalf of the Group of African States.

The representative of Liberia said the civil war in her country had destroyed the country's economic and administrative infrastructure, making humanitarian relief essential and rendering more than a million people dependent on that assistance. Calling upon all States to contribute generously to the Trust Fund for Liberia, she noted that donor and other countries were meeting in Brussels today, under the auspices of the United Nations, to review progress towards peace and assess assistance needs.

By the terms of the second draft resolution, which was introduced by Bulgaria, the Assembly would express concern at the persisting special economic problems confronting States affected by Security Council sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). Now that the sanctions regime has been lifted, the Assembly would reaffirm the need for continued international response to address the magnitude of the adverse impact of the sanctions on the economies of those States.

During discussion this morning of the United Nations efforts to strengthen delivery of humanitarian assistance and of operations in specific areas, the representative of Canada said the international community had learned from past experience that the response to complex humanitarian emergencies must be comprehensive and integrated. Looking at such integration in the context of the situation in eastern Zaire, he said inter-agency coordination was vital. On Saturday, in Geneva, his country would host a meeting of donors to seek agreement on key priorities for reintegration of the refugees returning to Rwanda. While Rwanda was the latest such tragedy to capture the attention of the world, it would not be the last, he added.

The representative of the United States said the United Nations was better prepared to respond to complex humanitarian emergencies and natural disaster than it was only two years ago. Along with asking the United Nations system to improve, he said that governments requiring assistance must facilitate the work of the humanitarian community. Also, Member States must make efforts to establish a sound financial basis for the Department for Humanitarian Affairs, which currently relied on voluntary contributions for 65 per cent of its funding requirements.

Statements were also made during that discussion by the representatives of Ireland (for the European Union), Norway, Lebanon, China, Mozambique, Jamaica (for the Caribbean Community), Russian Federation, Japan, Sudan, Republic of Korea and Belarus.

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