Top UN official visits Colombia next week to assess relief operations

20 February 2009The United Nations humanitarian chief is slated to visit Colombia early next week to see for himself the response of relief agencies working in the country, and meet with indigenous communities, Government officials and representatives of civil society groups. During his first mission to the South American country, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes will observe the progress made by the Government in providing assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable communities. Mr. Holmes is also expected to reiterate the world body’s commitment to support Colombia by increasing its presence, strengthening coordination with the Government and mobilizing resources for the humanitarian response.His three-day mission, which starts on Monday, includes a meeting with Afro and indigenous communities as well as people uprooted from their homes in and around Bebedó, Dipurdú, and Quibdó. He will also meet beneficiaries of the $3.1 million grant from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) disbursed in Colombia.The country has recently suffered the harshest, most destructive rainy season on record, which wreaked havoc on the Sucre, Bolivar and Chocó provinces, affecting one million people and destroying 44,000 hectares of crops.The Under-Secretary-General, currently in Sri Lanka, is scheduled for discussions with President Alvaro Uribe, as well as the Foreign Affairs Minister, Government and Justice Minister, the UN Country Team, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and members of the diplomatic community in Bogotá. He will also encourage donor countries to support funding requirements to address the country’s humanitarian needs. read more

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