UN Special Envoy returns to southern Africa as humanitarian needs escalate

Published on 18 May 2005

Johannesburg - James T. Morris, the UN Secretary-General\'s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, starts his fifth trip to the region as southern Africa moves into yet another year of immense humanitarian need.

JOHANNESBURG - James T. Morris, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, will start his fifth trip to the region on Sunday (May 22) as southern Africa moves into yet another year of immense humanitarian need.

During his eleven-day mission, Morris plans to visit four countries - Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Zimbabwe -- affected by the ‘triple threat' of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance and AIDS.

Morris will be joined by Ann M. Veneman, newly-appointed Executive Director of UNICEF, on a two-day mission to Malawi which is one of the countries worst-affected by the regional dry spell, rising malnutrition rates, and HIV/AIDS. Veneman will also travel to Swaziland during her visit. This will be her first field visit since taking up the top post at UNICEF at the beginning of May.

The HIV-AIDS driven crisis in the region is considered so grave that the Special Envoy will hold a review meeting in Johannesburg on May 25 that will include the Executive Directors of UNICEF and UNAIDS, Peter Piot, as well as ten country representatives from the United Nations system in southern Africa. The meeting will examine current interventions, UN reform, and the need to gear up humanitarian response in the face of a more competitive environment for resources.

Morris, Veneman, and Piot will hold a joint press conference at 14.30 on May 25 at the Rosebank Hyatt to outline the challenges affecting the region and the UN system's response.

The Special Envoy will meet with government officials, donor representatives and aid agencies as well as visit projects and meet with beneficiaries in Zambia and Malawi.

It is already evident that in addition to regional food shortages, funds for non-food items, such as medicines, healthcare, education, water and sanitation supplies, will be critically needed in the year ahead.

Morris was appointed UN Special Envoy in July 2002, three months after he joined the UN World Food Programme as Executive Director.

Itinerary

Zambia: May 22- 24

Johannesburg: May 25 - Press Conference

Malawi: May 26-27

Botswana: May 29-30

Johannesburg: May 31 - Donor meeting

Zimbabwe: June 1

NOTE FOR THE MEDIA:

· A press release will be issued in each country.

· The press conference will be held in Johannesburg on May 25, 14:30 am (Park Hyatt, Rosebank).

· Broadcasters: Please note b-roll from the region will be available at the June 25 press conference.

· The Special Envoy's mission can be followed on www.wfp.org

For more information contact:

Mike Huggins
(traveling with the S. Envoy)

Tel: +27-11-517-1662 (office)

Tel: +27 832-913-750 (cell)

Sarah Crowe,
UNICEF

Tel: +27-11-517-1617 (office);

+27-83-402-9812 (cell)

Richard Delate, UNAIDS Tel: +27-11-517-1822 (office); +27-82-370-2666 (cell)