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Briefing on Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq

Briefing on Humanitarian Assistance for Iraq

USAID Administrator Natsios; Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration Gene Dewey; Bruce Davis, Australian Director-General of AusAID; Christian Turner, U.K.'s First Secretary for Post-Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs

Washington, DC April 2, 2003

MR. REEKER: Welcome to the State Department. Welcome back for those of you that have been here before.

As you know, a major aspect of Operation Iraqi Freedom, of our Coalition to liberate Iraq, is humanitarian assistance for Iraq, for the Iraqi people, and we've pulled together a briefing today with some specialists in this field to make some brief remarks and then to answer your questions, so I want to introduce the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios. We also have with us Bruce Davis, the Director-General of AusAID from Australia. We have from the British Embassy, Christian Turner who is the First Secretary for Post-Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs, and we also have our Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration, Gene Dewey.

So with no further ado, let me ask Andrew to kick it off. I think each gentleman has some short intro remarks and then we will take your questions.

Thank you.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I first would like to welcome my friend and colleague Bruce Davis. AusAID is the USAID of Australia and we have worked on many things together, not just Iraq, but many other issues, development issues, and it is good to have him here in Washington.

The Iraqi people are our friends and I think we need to separate the Iraqi people from the regime that has preyed on the population for so long. We want to ensure in this conflict that their humanitarian needs are met and that reconstruction is sped forward as quickly as possible

We would like to announce, the United States Government, an additional contribution today of $200 million in cash to the World Food Program to purchase 324,000 tons of food locally, that is to say, in the region. The reason why we would be doing that is because it takes a couple of months to purchase food and ship it through the whole process in the United States. There are going to be immediate food needs in the region and the best way to move food very quickly is to give cash to WFP to buy within the countries in the region. So we're pleased to do that. It's enough food to feed 23 million people for the better part of a month.

Tomorrow the first shipment of U.S. bulk, hard red winter wheat will be shipped from the port of Galveston, Texas, 28,000 tons. The wheat comes from the states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. On March 20th we did announce the immediate release of 200,000 tons of wheat from the Emerson Trust and then more would be available should it be needed.

I also want to announce the first member of the DART Team, the Disaster Assistance Response Team, did go into Basra today and assess the condition of the airport. They have already done that in -- looked at the port facilities in Umm Qasr working with our Australian and British counterparts who are attempting to assess the situation on the ground to facilitate the relief operation. There are plans to continue to do assessments northward, but of course this situation is fluid and the more information we have, the easier it is for us to move our work forward.

In terms of the overall situation we're seeing, there are pockets of humanitarian need in Iraq, but we are not facing a massive humanitarian crisis. And we also would like to announce $20 million worth of grants to NGOs. One, the first one is $4 million to Care USA; a second one, $4 million to Save the Children, U.S., $4 million to International Medical Corps; $3 million to Mercy Corps International; $3 million to the International Rescue Committee and $2.1 million to Air Serv International.

And so we are beginning to roll out various parts of this. Almost our entire team of over 60 people are now in place in Jordan, Cyprus, Qatar and Kuwait City and then some spent the evening and overnight in Umm Qasr, which is the first night they have been able to do that. So the humanitarian response mechanism for the U.S. Government is now ramping up to a much higher level of readiness.

Bruce.

MR. DAVIS: Thanks very much, Andrew. Australia very much welcomes this opportunity to work in close collaboration with our U.S. and British colleagues in responding to the immediate humanitarian needs and also starting to look at planning for longer-term reconstruction. The Australian Government, to date, has committed $100 million, Australian, to immediate relief activities. A lot of this funding is focusing on enabling UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross and International NGOs to prepare for the needs that will be identified.

We have provided support to particular agencies that I think is helping them position for repair of water supplies, for provision of essential medical supplies and the like. We have also been providing funding to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. We believe this is an organization that does play a particularly important role in such cases of helping coordinate and will target assistance.

In response to the potential food shortages in Iraq, Australia is providing 100,000 tons of wheat as food aid. We are working currently with the World Food Program and Coalition forces to enable the first of these shipments to enter Iraq. We have directed one -- this is on two vessels, 50,000 tons on each -- one of these vessels will unload in Kuwait City and when security allows, the other we expect will unload in Umm Qasr.

We are doing this very much in coordination with the World Food Program because we feel that it will be particularly important, particularly as we move into distribution and ensuring that that is well-handled.

We continue to seek out areas where we can provide practical assistance. We're actively engaging with our UN colleagues, NGOs and our U.S. and U.K. friends to identify ways in which we can meet further humanitarian needs, and as I mentioned at the beginning, to plan, as well, for the longer-term reconstruction in Iraq. We also are very pleased to be working in the region with our colleagues and positioning people, specialists in various fields, to participate in both immediate assessment work and then planning for that longer-term reconstruction.

Thanks.

MR. TURNER: Thank you, Bruce. I should reiterate that I am here to represent London's Department for International Development, the UK Agency that deals with this. We assess there are two immediate tasks for Coalition forces: the first is to stabilize Iraq and the second is to ensure humanitarian needs are met. We do not assess the humanitarian situation in southern Iraq has worsened significantly as the result of Coalition action. The current situation is, rather, a direct result of the regime's misrule and the squandering of Iraq's considerable natural resources.

The under-five mortality rate is worse than that in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thirteen out of 100 children die before the age of five, and 70 percent of those deaths we estimate are a result of preventable conditions such as diarrhea or acute respiratory infections. Nonetheless, despite the fact that we do not see a worsening humanitarian situation, we are making every effort and working with the Coalition partners to establish a means of providing emergency aid should the situation worsen.

There are two elements to that effort for the UK; the first is immediate assistance by the military under the Geneva and Hague Conventions. This is DFID teams working with the military. At present, the security environment is such that it's very difficult for anyone other than the military to operate on the ground in the areas where UK Forces are. And then second, there's a broader assistance, which is managed by DFID to support needs as they may arise; and our support for that will be mainly channeled through our partners, the Red Cross and the UN, and also NGOs.

Just some funding statistics for you: total UK funding committed to date is £ 210 million. On the 27th of March, the Chancellor allocated £120 million from treasury funds. That was in addition to £50 million committed to support humanitarian agencies in the current crisis and £40 million for the immediate humanitarian crisis. £6 million of that is provided through NGOs and international organizations and £65 million has been provided to the UN Flash Appeal. Just a few specifics, then, on that -- on the situation, the immediate situation in Umm Qasr: As you may be aware, the Sir Galahad pictured behind me here unloaded in Umm Qasr on the 30th of March, and it was fully loaded with 231 tons of food, water, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. That was after there'd been a significant amount of Royal Navy mine countermeasures, which were a very important part of clearing the way for those shipments, the first shipments of humanitarian aid to arrive at Umm Qasr.

To date, 105 mines have been discovered: 11 in the water and 94 on Iraqi vessels. And then also, there has been work by the Royal Engineers to build a water pipeline from Kuwait to the outskirts of Umm Qasr. That's a 3.5-kilometer extension coming from Kuwait completed on the 31st of March. That's now fully operational. It's delivering 2 million liters of clean water a day, which is enough for approximately 160,000 people a day and it has the capacity to fill three 24,000 liter tankers every 45 minutes. Again, the water will be delivered to the communities that need it on a needs-based assessment by those tankers.

Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY DEWEY: Thank you, Christian. I welcome this opportunity to provide an update on implementation of U.S. Government humanitarian planning for Iraq.

Without any fear of contradiction I can say that our plan is a good plan and that plan is on track, particularly after the passage last Friday of the Oil-for-Food Resolution in the Security Council. As we've stated repeatedly over the last four months, U.S. humanitarian action supports the UN plan. We consider the UN and other international agency operations as the center of gravity for all humanitarian action with respect to Iraq. And the reasons for this are two: basically that these agencies have been working in Iraq for over a decade, and this is the only way, really, to achieve "buy-in" from other donors and other interested contributors to this effort.

In what was really an unprecedented process, my office conducted consultations with Coalition military planners prior to the start of the military action. And the purpose of this was to go over the range of specified and implied tasks that the military forces might be called upon to provide to support the civilian agencies in the humanitarian effort. And the results of that consultation are contributing to current military efforts to create the humanitarian space where humanitarian international organizations and NGOs can do their work. It also helps to clarify the tasks that the military, or that only the military can do, as well as tasks that the military definitely should not be doing.

The UN Security Coordinator conducted the first Security Assessment Mission yesterday and we hope that the results of this mission can lead to early re-entry of UN agency expatriate personnel and to non-governmental organizations in the UN, particularly the World Food Program and UNICEF.

And I should also note that several of the International Committee of the Red Cross expatriate staff remained in place when the military action commenced, and they are already performing invaluable work with water in Baghdad and in Basra, and in distribution of relief supplies to the neediest.

A major U.S. and international humanitarian objective has been to avoid movements of people, internally and externally. Movements, to date, have been insignificant except for some 300,000 moving in with friends and families in the north; not moving out of Iraq, but moving a shorter distance within the country. There have been only 27 refugees, those to Syria, none to Turkey. About 500 third-country nationals have gone to Jordan. These are Sudanese and Egyptian.

So the acute problems that are normally associated with displacement of people have largely been avoided. But we're still looking for all source information on water, on epidemics, particularly water-borne disease and measles, and about food and medical stock levels.

With respect to water, ICRC repairs in Basra now permit water for all on a staggered schedule. The pipeline from Kuwait to Umm Qasr has been mentioned and UNICEF is also trucking water from Kuwait into Iraq. It's important to get UNICEF expatriate staff in to ensure better organization of this effort.

Concerning food, the Sir Galahad, the two Australian ships of 50,000 each have been mentioned, and the passage of the Oil-for-Food Resolution last Friday has been an important step in this regard. The United Nations has issued a Flash Appeal and the initial sticker-shock of $2.2 billion is relieved somewhat when recognizing that the $1.3 billion of that for food will be compensated for, we hope, to a large extent, by the reopening of the Oil-for-Food program.

Other agencies that are in this appeal: The International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents, they are in for $80 million each, UNHCR, High Commissioner for Refugees, $154 million, UNICEF $166 [million], the World Health Organization $187 [million], International Organization for Migration that has certain camp responsibilities for internally displaced persons in Iraq for $64 million, the UN Development Program $71 [million] and the UN Office of Project Services that has been working in Northern Iraq with the internally affected people for $78 million.

Basically, the architecture within the UN system for refugees, obviously, the High Commissioner for Refugees, for internally displaced persons -- it's important to clarify this -- that where there are camps or clusters, in the north it will be the UN Office of Project Services that will be meeting the shelter needs and any camp needs; for center and south Iraq, the International Organization for Migration will be delivering non-food items. They will be registering persons where they are clustered in camps or communities. And they will be providing transportation as required.

UNICEF is very important for the needs of internally displaced persons because they will be covering -- UNICEF will be covering all of the sectors: water, food, sanitation, water sanitation, medical treatment except for shelter throughout the country; and the World Food Program of course, both wholesale and retail for food once they are able to start operating again inside Iraq, and non-governmental organizations working under the framework of the lead international organization for each sector.

Coordination: within the UN system, we have the Steering Group for Iraq in New York that's chaired by the Deputy Secretary General, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator also located in New York.

The United Nations in the Field: The center of field coordination is in Larnaca, Cyprus. That's where the UN Humanitarian Coordinator is located, Romero De Silva, and the U.S. Government relates to the UN in the field through liaison officers posted at various locations, the locations that Andrew mentioned in the field: Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Qatar, and Cyprus.

And Jay Garner's unit, now working out of the Humanitarian Operations Center in Kuwait, has frequent liaison with the United Nations through his office there. The program of work for the United States for the next weeks will be to continue funding the United Nations and other key international organizations, and to help extract maximum productivity out of the United Nations and other international organizations; also to help create an environment that will attract maximum "buy-in" from other donors.

Third: to facilitate coordination and information-sharing among all of the key players; to conduct and support humanitarian needs and operational effectiveness assessments; to urge access into Iraq for humanitarian personnel and relief articles; and to urge the right to asylum be provided by countries bordering Iraq for persons that may elect to flee. We hope that doesn't happen, but this has to be part of the planning; and then finally, to continue efforts to build a humanitarian coalition for burden sharing. Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Okay, thank you very much. We will be happy to take your questions. We could start with Carol and then George. We've got microphones coming around.

QUESTION: Carol Giacomo from Reuters. One point of clarification and then a question. Mr. Natsios, the money that you announced today, the $200 million, that is all new money that isn't -- that is in addition to the $320 million that you have put in the supplemental?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: No, this is in the supplemental, in a separate account.

QUESTION: In a separate account.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: We never announced it before because WFP had not actually publicly asked for it.

QUESTION: Okay.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: They asked for it, now we are responding. But it is in addition to what we have announced before.

QUESTION: All right. So in the supplemental there is $320 million, plus $200 million?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: That's correct.

QUESTION: Any more that you haven't announced?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, there's money that Gene has in there for UNHCR, United Nations High Commission for Refugees. But this money is all in -- there is one account that's for humanitarian assistance that's sort of fungible, depending on what the needs are, because we haven't assessed the needs in many areas. That's about $530 million. And there is a separate account of $200 million for this food to go to WFP in cash form.

QUESTION: And you can spend it before the Congress has acted?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: What we have done is we told Congress we were spending it before the supplemental went through out of our regular appropriation. And they said, "Go ahead and do it. We will reimburse you in the supplemental," which is what they have done. In fact, they appeared to have given us more money than we asked for, but we'll not complain about that.

QUESTION: All right. And my --

QUESTION: Can I just -- and then you ask your question? So to just put a fine point on that, that would make the total of U.S. assistance about $730 million?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: For the relief operation.

QUESTION: Okay.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Not -- reconstruction is $1.7 billion. You'll have to ask the Congress. It appears in the committee they've put more money in both the Senate and the House version, than what we asked for.

QUESTION: Okay.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Okay. But it wasn't cut. So the point here is we have got the money to reimburse us for the money we have taken out of our account to spend now. We need to speed this along in a certain sequence to make sure it arrives on time. So we're getting informal agreements with the Congress in various accounts, not just this account, to spend the money now, and then get reimbursed in the bill.

QUESTION: $200 million (inaudible) to $530 million?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: No, it's in addition to $530. The actual amount in the budget that we requested is $700 -- is more than $700 million for relief.

QUESTION: The $300 million I guess is the thing that's you are announcing today, that's debited from the $530?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: No, it's debited from the over $700 million.

QUESTION: Okay.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: $530, and then there is an additional 200 in the budget.

MR. REEKER: I think we are going to get this in a fact sheet. We'll set it out. The numbers get confusing. Carol, you had a question.

QUESTION: And this is really a question to all three governments that are represented there. The international aid community and the American aid community have become ever more vocal, it seems, about their concerns that the military has too large a role in Iraq and that they are -- you know, they fear for the safety of their workers; they fear for their ability to operate as a neutral party in this environment.

You know, are you all convinced? I mean how do you feel about their claims? Do you think that you have worked out an arrangement so that they can do their job as they see fit?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Let me first say that the arrangement that we have in place right now is the arrangement we had in Afghanistan and Kosovo and Bosnia; it's the same arrangement, it has not changed. This is a hot war in a conventional sense, which is different than some of the wars in the past, which were more constrained. There have been problems, I mean, issues. I think most of them have been dealt with at this point.

It is the case since the beginning of the planning on this that we're in the middle of a war, and our teams require security. We don't have our own security. And so, we have relied on the American military for security. But they do not direct -- the U.S. military does not direct our relief operations, and they're not doing that now; nor are they suggesting that they should.

So I think there were concerns before, Carol, but I frankly think they have been addressed. And the arrangements we have right now are the same ones we had in Afghanistan in terms of lines of authority and job descriptions.

MR. TURNER: I just absolutely reiterate that from the UK point of view, the UK is committed to humanitarian assistance being provided by civilian agencies wherever possible on the basis of need, not as part of the military strategy. As we have already heard, on an ongoing situation, we need to make sure they're working very closely together when the security situation on the ground permits to start involving those agencies.

QUESTION: Secretary Dewey, you know a little bit about refugees. You mentioned there has only been a trickle. Presumably, as the war heats up, you're going to get more refugees. I wonder how prepared neighboring countries are to receive them?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY DEWEY: Neighboring countries have -- some of them have stated a public policy of closing their borders. We expect, however, that these borders will be open for genuine asylum seekers. And the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is working with these countries either to provide facilities inside the countries of asylum or facilities right on the border to accept these people. Our hope is that the objective of keeping people in place will maintain and that there will be very little movement, but the High Commissioner is prepared for up to 600,000 people, if that becomes necessary.

QUESTION: I just wanted to reconcile a comment that, I think it was Mr. Natsios made just a moment ago, with a report I read from an embedded journalist, which I think was in either the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, one of them, in which it described the military giving a Sheik or a local Shiite Clerical leader all of the food supplies for the area, or a bunch, like a truckload of food supplies. Maybe it was on TV even.

And they said the reason why they were giving it to this Sheik, they made a point of showing, "We're giving him all of the food. He distributes it." Because they felt like he would help them militarily with their efforts to gather intelligence by propping him up. And I'm just trying to reconcile your earlier statement with that. There is probably some nuance and complexity involved here that maybe you could explain for us.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, there are two things: One is, in those areas where there is a hot conflict the only presence on the ground for relief is the military, and there has been an agreement in the plan among all of the forces that they would, in fact, provide assistance on a very short-term basis. The announcements we have been making -- and you have this sheet in front of you -- with $529 million is not to any military units.

This is to NGOs, the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC, and six UN agencies that are responding. And that will continue. None of that is for the military or through the military; the stocks that they -- are military stocks that they keep for their own purposes. And they do give out when they go into a village, but that's in a few-day basis.

The military is not set up to feed or to provide assistance to a country of 24 million people, where the public -- the food system in the country is a public system. It's not private markets for most of the food. It's through this public distribution system. They are not set up for it. They don't want to do it. They can't do it. So what you are seeing on television was frankly a short-term indication of support that will last a few days. It's not the permanent effort.

QUESTION: They're making a calculation that they want to, on a long-term-basis; clearly, they're making a calculation that they want to bolster this Shiite Cleric politically to enhance his influence in his community. Is there -- do you guys get involved in whose influence gets boosted for the long-term? I mean I would think that would be something you guys would be really interested in because you're the one that's going to have to live with it?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, we're actually not because the humanitarian assistant that we're talking about at this table, through the international humanitarian system, is based on need, not based on politics, not based on region or ethnic group, it is based on need, assessed need. And that's how we have been operating for decades. In fact, going back to Herbert Hoover's effort in the First World War, this is very old principles; they were very established systems in many organizations. In fact, a number of the ones that we all deal with were founded during the Second World War. And there is established ways of doing things and we're continuing to do this.

Has the military, every military, in some circumstances over a short-term done things such as what you just mentioned? Yes, they have, but that is not the architecture of the international system.

QUESTION: I wanted to get your assessment of how long it will take to really open the port at Umm Qasr. I'm told it's filled with silt and that there is still a number of mines, and that it could take weeks to open it properly. And how are you going to distribute this food in central and southern Iraq when I'm told that Iraqi employees of WFP have been told by the -- a still existing government -- to have nothing to do with any of this distribution for the current time? What's going to happen in three or four weeks when the food runs out?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: It's clear that for the Sir Galahad, the British ship that went in, it was small enough that it could get in without any trouble. The Australian ships are too big with 50,000 tons of wheat on them to go into the port without dredging. The AID mission, led by Lew Lucke, is now looking into the procedures -- actually, without going into the contracting systems in any detail, the fact is we have contracting mechanisms to dredge the port. We're trying to speed those up now. And I was just on the phone this morning to the mission, and we think it can be done in a matter of days not weeks. That's what I was told this morning.

QUESTION: And what about the problem of internal distribution?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, internal distribution, clearly, there is fluid situations from a security standpoint, different areas of the country. The places where WFP is going to be able to get into are those where there is relative secure -- or relative safety for relief workers. What the Ba'athist Party says, or does not say is not going to influence what's done in Umm Qasr because we're -- Coalition forces are in control of the city. I think the British are there. And the Ba'athist Party, as soon as they realized they were no longer -- they all left because they realized that they had lost control, and the same thing is in the outskirts of Basra as well, we're finding. The British are in control in those areas as well.

It will progress through different stages. And the UN is now, as Gene Dewey was mentioning earlier, the UNSECUR, which is the UN Security Office, is doing an assessment of not just Umm Qasr but areas around it to determine whether it is safe in order for these humanitarian operations by UN agencies, and the NGOs, and the DART team are adequate.

QUESTION: On the food, the $1.3 billion, you mentioned that you anticipated that the --

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Which $1.3 billion?

QUESTION: For food, the UN request that would be reimbursed through oil funds. A couple of questions on that: When would you anticipate funds would begin to flow from the oil? How long after the war is over?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY DEWEY: The expectation is that it would take 8 to 10 weeks for the World Food Program to sort out all of the contracts that have -- that are in the pipeline for the Oil-for-Food program; and that there would be a need for the Australian wheat to fill that gap. That's going to be an important gap-filler for that period while World Food Program is sorting it out. That timeline may need to be a little bit flexible, but we have understood that World Food Program has identified $1 billion worth of relief commodities, not all food, but commodities in that pipeline that can start to move through the pipeline.

QUESTION: But when would you expect the oil to -- what's your anticipation of when the oil revenue would begin?

MR. NATSIOS: There is already $8 billion in the account now.

QUESTION: Yeah. In the account, okay.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: So we don't need any more oil to pay for any of this stuff.

QUESTION: So this would come out of the money that's held in the UN account?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY DEWEY: Yes, that's right, the $8 billion in the UN account will be used.

QUESTION: Okay.

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: If I could, could I just clarify that all that we have announced today is not out of Oil-for-Food or out of any oil reserves -- those are American taxpayer funds, British or Australian taxpayer funds. And the second thing is we have constructed a bridge in between now and the time the 8 to 10 weeks is over and the Oil-for-Food program kicks in and it's operational. So we have, basically, a four-month period.

We have a month worth of food in most peoples homes or more; and then months 2, 3, and 4, between what the Coalition partners have contributed from their own resources will be sufficient to get us, if we need to, to the end of the fourth month. If Oil-for-Food is functional earlier than that, then that will kick in. But we have enough food on hand in the pipeline through our own resources to take us until the Oil-for-Food program is fully functional.

QUESTION: You mentioned earlier that the structure was the same as it was in the previous conflicts, but you didn't have General Garner and the Pentagon involved. Doesn't that add --

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I'm talking on the relief side, not reconstruction.

MR. REEKER: Some of our guests have got to catch transportation, so could we take a question from NPR.

QUESTION: Thank you. I'd like to go back to Carol's question because the aid groups were talking about -- that they're concerned that the Pentagon is sidestepping the State Department, and that includes in Garner's office, and a lot of this. What kind of assurances can you give them that this is not so? What kinds of efforts are you making to ensure that USAID is in the lead?

ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, the humanitarian relief effort of the U.S. Government is being run by an interagency team that reports to AID and I report to Colin Powell. We have got, not just people from AID on it or relief officials, Gene Dewey -- one of the Deputies is one of Gene Dewey's people. We have got people from the Centers for Disease Control, the public health service. There are a number of Federal agencies, domestic agencies, in addition, that have -- I think there is someone from USDA that may be on the team as well.

But it's the relief team for the early stage, not for reconstruction, per se. That team reports to me and I report to Colin Powell. That is as it is now. There is confusion in some people's minds between the reconstruction effort, which is a different matter, and the relief effort.

The relief effort is governed by a set of codes on international humanitarian law, and international standard agreements that we have reached many, many years ago that there is common agreement on among donors, the NGOs, the UN agencies.

The architecture of the system was designed a long time ago, and that's still in place. That was the argument I was making earlier. On the reconstruction of the country, there is still a debate going on as to what -- how robust the role of the United Nations will be. There is no debate that the UN is going to be involved. The debate is what that will be. And that will be settled in a new resolution that will be voted on, and we're not, the diplomats who are writing that resolution. And our governments are now discussing that within the context of the United Nations.

And I think that's where some of this debate is -- these issues are coming up. But we shouldn't confuse the humanitarian relief effort, which is for immediate humanitarian needs in four areas: shelter, water and sanitation, emergency medical care, and food. That's all we deal with in the relief phase.

MR. REEKER: Okay, thank you. We're going to have to stop there because we have to meet some transportation deadlines. But thank you very much. [End]

Released on April 2, 2003

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