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Terror attacks on US will hurt Asia-Pacific anti-poverty drive, UN official says

Terror attacks on US will hurt Asia-Pacific anti-poverty drive, UN official says

The recent terrorist attacks against the United States will cause an economic downturn in Asia and the Pacific, complicating efforts to eradicate poverty there, according to a senior United Nations official in the region.

Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said that in the wake of the attacks vulnerable groups trying to recover from the region's 1997 crisis may have more difficulty leaving the ranks of the poor.

Speaking on Thursday at a joint briefing of UN officials from various agencies gathered in Bangkok, Mr. Kim said there were also positive signs, including the fact that governments worldwide had recognized the dangers to the global economy posed by the attacks and were taking coordinated action to avert a major recession.

Offering a law-enforcement perspective, Sandro Calvani, a representative of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), said the agency's Terrorism Prevention Branch had set up several databases to monitor terrorist incidents and the prevention and control measures taken in response.

For his part, Lalit B. Shah of the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), emphasized that the 11 September attacks marked the first time that commercial aircraft were used as weapons of destruction. He said the Montreal-based agency was "identifying the means by which we can eradicate this new threat and restore confidence in a system that remains fundamentally safe, secure and efficient."

Commenting on the potential use of biological agents and chemical weapons, Dr. Bjorn Melgaard of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the agency continuously monitored disease outbreaks through its Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, which is charged with detection, verification of rumours and reports, immediate alert and rapid response.

ESCAP plans to hold a meeting of eminent persons in Bangkok later this month to discuss issues related to the impact of the terror attacks against the US on the Asia-Pacific region.