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UN official encourages Arab League to boost role in humanitarian aid delivery

12 January 2010 – A senior United Nations relief official has lauded the increasingly important role played by the League of Arab States in facilitating humanitarian aid, and encouraged it to step up efforts in the areas of coordination and funding.

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg met yesterday with representatives of the League, as she began a two-day visit to Cairo. She commended the League’s efforts in supporting UN relief efforts and appeals, including advocating improved coordination among its member countries and with the wider international humanitarian system.

“I further encourage the League of Arab States to take a proactive role in promoting international humanitarian coordination and funding for the various humanitarian appeals and response plans in the region,” said Ms. Bragg, who is also UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The appeals, which help raise funds for emergencies, include Afghanistan ($871 million), the occupied Palestinian territory ($664 million) and Yemen ($177 million). There is also the Syria Drought Response Plan ($48 million) and the Iraq Humanitarian Action Plan ($193 million).

While in Cairo, Ms. Bragg thanked the Egyptian Government for hosting the Regional Office for the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Relocated from Dubai in mid-2009, the office covers a region with multiple ongoing humanitarian emergencies, which is hosting ten million refugees and more than three million internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to OCHA.

Wrapping up her visit to the Egyptian capital today, Ms. Bragg met with the Egypt Red Crescent Society, which continues to play a crucial role in the delivery of humanitarian relief, including to the Gaza Strip.

She will continue her four-day mission with a visit to Damascus, Syria, on 13 and 14 January.

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