UN relief chief calls on Middle East to channel more aid through

Making the keynote address at an international humanitarian conference in Dubai, Jan Egeland said that his most recent missions, including trips to Uganda and Sudan, showed beyond doubt that the international community needed to strengthen its collective efforts to address the “pressing, but often forgotten,” humanitarian challenges of today.“There needs to be greater recognition of the positive role that the Middle East plays in the delivery of charitable and humanitarian assistance. However, I would also point out that greater participation within the multilateral system could help bring about that recognition,” he told government, UN and development representatives at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition.“The international humanitarian response will be strengthened through greater cooperation; the United Nations humanitarian system will be reinforced and diversified; and the countries and aid agencies of the Middle East will be better able to tap international resources, help set the agenda and generate international recognition for their humanitarian activities.”“Strengthening humanitarian partnerships and networks within the region and between the Middle East and other regions represents a win-win situation for all involved,” Mr. Egeland pointed out, saying also that the humanitarian community continued to be “perceived as too UN- and too Western-centric,” something the UN was trying to rectify.He also highlighted various areas of recent collaboration, including contributions or pledges from the Governments of Kuwait, Pakistan, Egypt and Qatar, as well as the new Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which will have up to $450 million available to be used as grants for jump-starting life-saving relief operations immediately when a natural disaster or other crisis strikes.“We also value the excellent working relationship we have with Red Crescent organizations of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf States. Our open, frank and constructive dialogue with charitable organizations from the Arab-Muslim world enables us better to understand specific challenges and constraints,” he concluded.

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