UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan phoned US President George W. President Bush on Friday to reiterate his offer of UN aid for the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, Annan's office said.
As of now UN agencies are ready to provide water storage tanks, water purification tablets, high-energy biscuits, generators, tents, and other emergency supplies, as well as experienced staff members, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters on Friday.
Annan's call followed his statement last night that, although the Unite States is the country in the world best prepared to cope with such a disaster, "the sheer size of this emergency makes it possible that we can supplement the American response with supplies from other countries, or with experience we have gained in other relief operations."
"The American people -- who have always been the most generous in responding to disasters in other parts of the world -- have now themselves suffered a grievous blow," he said. "I know that I speak for the whole world in offering them my heartfelt sympathy, and any assistance that the United Nations can give."
Okabe said that a UN inter-agency task force, chaired by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), met this morning to determine what resources are available at the moment to aid the relief effort, in anticipation of a possible request for assistance from the US government.
The task force is composed of representatives from OCHA and the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, as well as the UN Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, the World Food Program, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Beyond the supplies that the agencies are already able to provide, OCHA has also sent out a general alert to the UN Disaster, Assessment and Coordination teams, which are trained to evaluate needs and coordinate aid during natural disasters.