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Haiti - Reconstruction : Humanitarian Operations "frustrating and difficult to manage"
09/09/2010 13:28:11

Haiti - Reconstruction : Humanitarian Operations
The way the UN responds to natural disasters and emergencies of human origins and natural has improved considerably in recent years, according to former Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, who resigned in late August, after more than three years in this position.

In an interview with the News Center of the United Nations, he admits that improvements can still be made to improve aid coordination and reduce the suffering of victims.

"I think that the UN response to disasters is much better than it had been 10 or 20 years. We are better coordinated and better organized, more professional, faster, more predictable and have better funding", said Mr. Holmes, who was directly involved in the UN response to several major disasters, like Hurricane Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, or the recent floods in Pakistan.

"Ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid, efficiently and timely, is not an easy task, given the difficulties posed by the coordination of a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, UN agencies , non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and various other partners", he said.

"I can not tell them what to do [NGOs]. I can only convince them that it is in any particular direction as we go, we must all work together, we must avoid the shortcomings and that we must avoid duplication. It's happening on the ground", he added. At the same time, he believed that "there is still margin to improve the way in which the organization answers the catastrophes and other emergencies".

"The answer is never perfect, but disasters are, by definition, chaotic and confusing events in which we try to impose some order. This work will continue but the most important is that we have made real progress and continue to do", he continued.

John Holmes, was replaced by another British, Valerie Amos, she has also highlighted one of the trickiest aspects of his work: coordination with governments of affected countries, often suspicious activities UN humanitarian, he said.

"Instead of facilitating our work, to provide us all the possible assistance, we have the impression sometimes that they put sticks in the wheels, or they think we have other goals or we interfered too much in their internal affairs, " he said, before adding "it is frustrating and difficult to manage".
If stressed the importance of respecting the sovereignty of States, the diplomat also recalled that the objective was to reach victims and provide help and assistance they need.

"We have a humanitarian imperative moral of trying to go where are the people who need help, so we must find the right balance to make our voices heard, sometimes say things that governments do not want heard, while working with them and respecting their sovereignty", he said.

HL / HaitiLibre

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