So far, the Standby Team of Mediation Experts, established last year to help the UN respond more quickly to crises, has been asked to help with the Organization’s peacemaking and preventive diplomacy in nine areas in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, said Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios.“Responding effectively to peacemaking opportunities depends on getting to the field quickly with the right kind of expertise,” said Mr. Menkerios. “The Standby Team is helping us to do just that.”The six-member team “should be used more widely as a resource by envoys in the field,” he said at a luncheon honouring departing members of the team who serve one year terms. During its first 15 months, the Team has helped in Kenya, the Central African Republic (CAR), Comoros, Cyprus, Iraq, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal and Somalia. The experts have also facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and their clients have included not just UN political envoys, but also peacekeeping missions, UN Resident Coordinators and the African Union (AU).The Norwegian Government funded the initial 15 month-pilot phase of the Standby Team and has agreed to provide continued financing. 10 June 2009The United Nations special on-call mediation team has helped respond to sticky problems all over the globe in their first year – and should do more, according to a top official at the world body.
“The situation is alarming particularly for children who are susceptible to water borne diseases,” Hanaa Singer, UNICEF’s Representative in Syria reported in a press release. “With the crisis now in its fifth year, water has become even more scarce and unsafe, and poor hygiene conditions especially among the displaced communities are putting more children at severe risk.”Since the beginning of 2015, said the UN agency, Syria has reported 105,886 cases of acute diarrhoea while also registering a sharp increase of Hepatitis A cases. The situation is particularly dramatic in Deir-Ez-Zour, a city not far from Syria’s border with Iraq, where raw sewage has reportedly contaminated the Euphrates River from which the local population receives its water. As a result, UNICEF added, some 1,144 of typhoid cases have been reported. “Since the beginning of the crisis, we’ve been working with a range of partners to support the vital water infrastructure on which some 15 million people in Syria depend,” Ms. Singer continued. “This includes drilling and equipping wells as alternative sources of water as well as supporting the local production and procurement of water treatment supplies.”The conditions in Syria have steadily been deteriorating since the outbreak of the country’s conflict in March 2011. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has cautioned that some 12 million people in the Middle Eastern country today remain in need of humanitarian assistance – a twelve-fold increase since 2011. 7.6 million people have been displaced by the conflict and another 4.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in hard to reach and besieged locations.The humanitarian impact of the crisis is only further compounded by funding shortfalls which has seen wholesale cuts to the UN’s delivery of humanitarian aid – from food assistance to lifesaving health services.