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PRESS CONFERENCE BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

18 January 2005

The General Assembly today, meeting in plenary for the first time since 23 December 2004, was considering a draft resolution on the strengthening of emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and prevention in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, Assembly President Jean Ping (Gabon) told correspondents today during a briefing at Headquarters.

He said the “extremely important” draft resolution, submitted and supported by a significant number of Member States, called for strengthening emergency assistance and assistance for recovery and reconstruction. By the text, the Assembly expressed its deep concern at the magnitude and recurrent nature of natural disasters, which led to significant loss of life and large-scale destruction. The Assembly appealed to the international community to provide all necessary assistance to the stricken countries and populations and emphasized the need to establish an early-warning system for the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia.

He said that during a ministerial meeting of developing States regarding the implementation of the “Barbados Plan of Action for Sustainable Development”, that had taken place in Mauritius from 10 to 14 January, he had expressed his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and to those countries that were so seriously stricken. Immediately after that meeting, he had returned to New York to preside over today’s session, cancelling all his previous commitments. He noted that on other occasions he had appealed for an international mechanism under the aegis of the United Nations to coordinate action by the international community for early-warning systems, risk prevention and management of the consequences of natural disasters.

In conclusion, he announced that the General Assembly would hold a special session on 24 January to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, clarifying that 164 Member States, an overwhelming majority, had been in favour of holding such a session.

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