Global perspective Human stories

Humanitarian mail in times of natural catastrophe, conflict honoured on UN stamps

Humanitarian mail in times of natural catastrophe, conflict honoured on UN stamps

United Nations postal authorities today issued four stamps to raise awareness of the importance of humanitarian mail in times of natural catastrophes or conflicts.

The stamps, all sharing a common design of a letter carrier holding a letter in one hand as he floats over a sea of hands reaching out, were issued by the UN Postal Administration (UNPA), and the UN Universal Postal Union (UPU) and Swiss Post.

“The design symbolizes the UN’s and the UPU’s commitment to delivering food, aid, material and mail to the victims of natural disasters or armed conflicts,” the head of UNPA’s New York office, Robert Gray, said.

In certain cases, humanitarian mail enables people to find lost relatives and serves as a communication link when other communication means have been destroyed or have broken down.

The UNPA issued three stamps, one for each of the UN Offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna, while Swiss Post issued one as a UPU official stamp. It is the first time that the three organizations worked together on a common issue.

The four stamps were unveiled during a ceremony at UPU headquarters in Berne, the Swiss capital, by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Adolf Ogi, UPU Director General Edouard Dayan, Mr. Gray, and Swiss Post Chief Executive Ulrich Gygi.

“Providing humanitarian aid is one of the UN’s fundamental missions, to respond collectively to major crises that hit our member countries and often the poorest ones,” Mr. Dayan said. “The UPU, whose mission it is to guarantee the right to communication through postal services, fully assumes its role when any of its member countries are devastated by natural catastrophes, pandemics or even armed conflicts.”

The UN stamps can only be mailed from the UN in New York, Geneva and Vienna, while the UPU stamp is only valid on mail posted at the UPU International Bureau in Berne.