UN missions assess people’s needs in peace process

A "United Nations Needs Assessment Mission" is currently in Sri Lanka on two-week visit to look into ways of assisting the country’s socio-economic development in connection with the current peace initiative. The mission will explore the possibilities of enlarging UN technical assistance and mobilising necessary resources in support of the government’s efforts aimed at reconstruction and overcoming the effect of the conflict on people’s lives throughout the country. It will address the issues of return, re-location and integration of displaced and other war affected people, de-mining infrastructure development, children, but will not be limited to these.

The mission is expected to meet the highest authorities of government, key Ministers and other government officials, religious dignitaries, leaders of political parties, the LTTE, business leaders, donors, NGO and civil society representatives. It plans to visit the district of Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Kandy. The mission will be in the country till May 3 and will meet the media before its departure, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) said.

The mission is in the country in response to a request made early March by the prime minister to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Conveyng his agreement, the Secretary-General confirmed his own objective of making resources and know-how of the UN available to support the on-going peace building and reconstruction efforts.

The mission includes representatives from UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, WFP, OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) OHCHR (High Commissioner for Human Rights) and DPA (Department of Political Affairs) of the United Nations Secretariat. The Secretary-General has asked Edouard Wattez, Deputy Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP to lead the mission.

The visit is the first phase of the needs assessment exercise. Thereafter the UN country team, based in Sri Lanka, under the leadership of the newly arrived Resident Coordinator Miguel Bermeo will undertake the technical part of the needs assessment. Final recommendations of the assessment will be submitted to the Government. The whole process is expected to lead as soon as possible to a larger consultation involving the ODA community at large, UNIC said.

As part of this needs assessment exercise, a special UN mission is also in Sri Lanka to see first hand the situation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), including the emerging prospects for durable solutions for IDPs. Kofi Asomani, UN Undersecretary-General and UN Special Coordinator on Internal Displacement, heads the mission, fully supported by a UNHCR team.