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In wake of terror attacks, UN tour guides help New York City relief effort

In wake of terror attacks, UN tour guides help New York City relief effort

The United Nations announced today that its tour guides - whose work has been suspended after the recent terrorist attacks forced the UN to close its doors to the public - are helping in the relief effort for New York City.

Since yesterday, UN tour guides have been staffing information kiosks being set up around New York City by the American Red Cross. Working as volunteer interpreters, the guides are providing information to New Yorkers, family members of the missing, and visitors to the city on a variety of subjects related to relief operations.

The guides themselves have expressed appreciation for the chance to help out. "I'm grateful for this opportunity to be of use in this time of tragedy in any way possible," said Klaus Hassel, who hails from Denmark.

"It means doing something, helping out, even if it is indirectly," agreed Beatrice Amoakoh, who has dual nationality from both Poland and Ghana. "In addition, it is not very different from what we usually do, meaning informing people."

The arrangement came in response to an offer of assistance made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week when he visited the site of the attack, known as "ground zero" with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York State Governor George Pataki.

Over 30 UN tour guides are being deployed at various times to the kiosks, which will be set up around the city. So far, 27 locations have been identified in Manhattan and elsewhere, including Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island

In a related development, more than 100 UN staff members have responded to a request from the Office of the Mayor of New York offering their time and language skills as volunteer interpreters to help out at this critical time. Collectively fluent in 38 different languages, these staff members have volunteered at such sites as the Family Assistance Center at Pier 94 in Manhattan.