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Top UN relief official pleads for Security Council political action in Africa

Top UN relief official pleads for Security Council political action in Africa

USG Jan Egeland
The top United Nations humanitarian relief official today pleaded for the Security Council to take urgent political and security measures to stem crises resurgent in Darfur, south Sudan, Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa, so that humanitarian efforts will not be overwhelmed by violence and Governmental problems.

“Humanitarian aid cannot be an alibi for unwillingness to address the root causes of conflict,” said Jan Egeland, UN Humanitarian Relief Coordinator. “The greatest contribution we can make to addressing humanitarian crises in Africa is determined, energetic and sustained efforts to bring an end to conflict and injustice that cause so much suffering in Africa.”

In Darfur in particular, he said, 13,000 international and national relief workers are assisting more than 3 million people in that region and Chad under constant threat, while they are witnessing a terrible reality on the ground -- killing, rape, burning, looting and forced displacement.

“It cannot be right that we have twice as many humanitarian workers in Darfur as international security personnel,” he said, urging an expanded security presence on the ground. “So I appeal to you very strongly to show the sense of urgency and determination needed to achieve the objectives identified in your resolutions and help bring this crisis to an end.”

He also urged that the Council deal with the growing devastation by the Ugandan Rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in south Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who are not only attacking local people and refugees and cutting off humanitarian access to them, but are also targeting humanitarian workers.

The Council must, he said insist on an immediate cessation of LRA violence and an end to all sources of support to the group. He also called for the convening of an expert panel to decide how the Council could most effectively eliminate its threat.

In sourthern Africa, Mr. Egeland focused on the situation in Zimbabwe, where almost one third the population will require food assistance this year, basic services continue to deteriorate and the Government’s recent urban eviction campaign was “the worst possible action, at the worst possible time.”

In that situation as well, he stressed it was not sustainable to keep providing food assistance for millions of people year after year without addressing the causes.

“From my discussions with the Government of Zimbabwe, I am convinced that the UN and the humanitarian community at large must try to engage more actively with the Government.”

In addition, he said, there needed to be much more investment in sustainable food security, livelihoods and basic services in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa.

“I call upon all Member States to live up to their commitments to fund, support and facilitate a much more ambitious development and humanitarian agenda,” he said.