Farrakhan: Take in families left homeless (Richmond Times Dispatch, 09-04-2005)
UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – Secretary-General Kofi Annan phoned Pres. George W. Bush on September 2, to offer United Nations aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, while the world body’s entire emergency relief system went on standby for a possible request for help.
“The American people — who have always been the most generous in responding to disasters in other parts of the world — have now themselves suffered a grievous blow. I know I speak for the whole world in offering them my heartfelt sympathy, and any assistance that the United Nations can give,” Mr. Annan said in a press release.
The top UN emergency relief official has also offered the U.S. the world body’s help “in any way possible”.
The offer was made in a letter from the Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland to U.S. ambassador, John Bolton. Mr. Bolton did not answer reporters’ questions concerning the offers.
Mr. Egeland said he has been encouraging donors to contribute to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are active in helping the hurricane victims. The UN Staff Unions in New York and Geneva, Switzerland are working to raise money for hurricane survivors.
According to UN spokespersons, its agencies are ready to provide water storage tanks, water purification tablets, high-energy biscuits, generators, planes, tents, and other emergency supplies, as well as experienced staff members.
Beyond the supplies that the agencies are already able to provide, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has sent out a general alert to the UN Disaster, Assessment and Coordination teams, which are trained to evaluate needs and coordinate aid during natural disasters.
Even UNICEF has made an offer to the U.S. to help. “Our hearts go out to all the victims of this tragedy, especially the children,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said.
At a news briefing in Geneva the UNICEF director said that once again it was the most vulnerable people who suffered from the hurricane, and it was estimated that between one third and one quarter of those who had had their lives disrupted were children.
Even though it is too early to quote exact figures, between 300,000 and 400,000 children were probably homeless, she said. Ms. Veneman added, that although their physical needs were mostly provided for, they would need psychological help.