Seeking to improve the national and international response to major humanitarian emergencies in parts of Africa, a top United Nations relief official arrived on the continent today for talks with government officials and civil society groups.
Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, landed in Khartoum for the start of a 12-day mission to the Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
On the first leg of his mission, to the Sudan and Kenya, Mr. Oshima is scheduled to meet with senior officials from the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. He is also slated to hold talks with the UN country team and representatives from donor countries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The meetings are expected to cover humanitarian access to people in need, the safety of civilians and aid workers, and ways to assure the smooth functioning of one of the world's largest humanitarian operations.
Accompanying Mr. Oshima is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for the Sudan, Ambassador Tom Eric Vraalsen.
For the second half of his trip, from 5 to 11 October, Mr. Oshima is scheduled to travel to Ethiopia and Eritrea to draw attention to growing humanitarian needs brought about by drought-induced food shortages.
He is expected to visit areas hard-hit by drought and discuss how best to address the urgent needs of populations effected by the emergency. Holdbrook Arthur, the UN World Food Programme's (WFP) Director for the Central Africa Region, as well as officials from the European Commission and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will accompany Mr. Oshima during this leg of the trip.