Associated Press 9/9/2005
U.N. Humanitarian Chief: Relief Aid Coming
By LEYLA LINTON
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. humanitarian chief said he expected the world body to become more involved in the Katrina relief effort as international aid arrives.
Small U.N. teams are already assisting U.S. authorities with expert advice and coordinating international aid.
"All in all we expect the U.N. involvement to grow as we expect there to be a very considerable increase in the number of international relief flights to the United States from many parts of the world," said Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
"We, as internationals, deal with mass natural disasters around the globe a number of times a year, so we have well-tested systems which have now been appreciated by many of these U.S. agencies," Egeland said.
He said he expected the United States to ask the United Nations for material assistance.
"We have health kits and school-in-a-box kits that are tailored for immediate use for people that are displace by emergencies and when such requests come we will answer immediately as UNICEF already did when Church World Services requested school-in-a-box for people in shelters."
The United Nations has a small team working closely with U.S. authorities in Washington.
It also has teams in Baton Rouge, La., and Denton, Texas, who are offering expert advice in water and sanitation, health coordination, child protection, shelter and emergency assistance.
A U.N. logistics team at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas is helping the United States track and coordinate international assistance, which has been offered by 90 countries and international organizations.
"The whole world has been really shaken and moved by the images of widespread damage and suffering," Egeland said.
He said it was "very normal" that it was taking more time for the United States to deploy and use international aid than national assistance.
"What is very unusual is that the United States has not had such a natural disaster like this ever because it affected so many people so dramatically so quickly and that is why at first, nobody expected them not to have enough local and national resources," he added.
Shortly after the catastrophic Dec. 26 Asian tsunami, Egeland angered Washington by complaining in that wealthy nations have often been "stingy" with aid for many countries with long-term relief needs.
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