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UN-backed forum examines role of information in humanitarian operations

UN-backed forum examines role of information in humanitarian operations

Improving humanitarian responses during emergencies through better information is the focus of a United Nations event that kicked off today in Geneva, bringing together governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scientists, academics, the media and the private sector.

Over 300 humanitarian and information specialists are attending the week-long conference, which aims to improve current humanitarian operations through new technology and improved information practices.

Hosted by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the meeting will also review progress made since the first Symposium on Best Practices in Humanitarian Information Management and Exchange, held five years ago.

Participants will address how information can meet the challenge of today’s humanitarian environment; the impact of citizen journalism and new media in humanitarian reporting and advocacy; and how to improve communications to people in need during an emergency.

“The role of information in humanitarian operations cannot be overstated,” stated John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “It is the key element for accurate analysis, which underpins effective coordination, evidence-based advocacy, sound policy and effective action.”

Mr. Holmes will be among the keynote speakers at the event, which will also showcase the latest innovative tools and new technologies currently being used in humanitarian operations, such as REDHUM, YouTube, Flickr, Second Life, satellite imagery and blogging.