Deputy Minister van der Merwe to hold Discussions with United Nations Special Envoy Jan Egeland

Tshwane - South African Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe will hold discussions with the United Nations (UN) Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland at the Union Buildings in Tshwane on Wednesday, 7 December 2005.

Discussions between Deputy Minister van der Merwe and UN Under Secretary-General Jan Egeland are expected to focus on humanitarian challenges facing Southern Africa, including the proposed reform and upgrade of the Central Emergency Revolving Fund into the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The reform is aimed at the strengthening of the UN humanitarian machinery. The current CERF as it stands works as a loan mechanism and a transformed CERF will include a grant facility.

In this regard, a number of recent examples demonstrate the need for more readily available funding for all types of emergencies, complex emergencies and natural disasters alike. The UN and its implementing partners have proven that they are able to move quickly, save lives, and alleviate suffering if timely and adequate funding is provided. The UN Secretary General's Report, "In Larger Freedom" recognised that the humanitarian system has been performing well in most emergencies given the means at its disposal. However, it also recognised the need to improve the response capacity of the humanitarian system.

As part of the broader process of UN reform, South Africa supports the efforts to reform the UN humanitarian mechanism, especially because it promises to set aside some resources for neglected emergencies.

A key aspect of the consolidation of the African Agenda, which is one of the pillars of South Africa's foreign policy, is the elimination of conflict, and the creation of conditions of security and stability to ensure that development can be expedited.

In this regard, food security and humanitarian assistance, particularly in neglected and under-funded emergencies remains critical to this objective.

South Africa has in 2005 alone contributed R140 million to the World Food Programme and an additional R500 000 to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The contribution made by South Africa does not only go to procuring food parcels but has a portion of it conditional on the establishment of sustainable agricultural programmes.

Thus, a reformed UN humanitarian machinery will go a long way towards contributing to fast response to emergencies.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

7 December 2005

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