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UN, OIC sign humanitarian agreement

(Xinhua)

08:18, November 15, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Monday signed an agreement to usher in a new era of humanitarian cooperation between the world's largest governing body and the 57-member OIC, UN officials said here.

The agreement was signed by Valerie Amos, UN under secretary- general for humanitarian affairs, and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the seat of the OIC's permanent Secretariat, said the officials.

"We greatly value the partnership we already have with the OIC and its member states on humanitarian issues," Amos said at the signing ceremony. "This agreement formalizes our intention to work more closely together on relief coordination, fundraising and preparedness, so that we can save more lives."

As Arab Spring protests turn increasingly violent and humanitarian crises mushroom in Africa and Southeast Asia, stronger cooperation between the United Nations and its affiliated humanitarian organizations and the OIC is vital for the survival of many of the estimated 1.6 billion people that live in OIC member states today.

The agreement in the form of the Memorandum of Understanding, " provides a framework for regular dialogue and exchange of information between the two organizations, as well as closer coordination during humanitarian operations," according to a press release from Amanda Pitt, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"Together we can better respond to challenges like the desperate humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa," said Ihsanoglu at the ceremony. "The UN and OIC can play complementary roles, enhancing humanitarian operations and assisting people more quickly and effectively."

Rima Salah, the UNICEF deputy executive director, stressed the importance of better coordination, saying, "In countries like Somalia, aid agencies and NGOs from all over the world are working round the clock to save as many lives as possible. Working together means we can help many more children and prevent death and disease."

At the press conference following the signing, Amos said the OIC has played a "pivotal role" in coordinating support between humanitarian organizations partners in the embattled country.

Famine and drought, combined with periods of heavy rainfall and growing insecurity near the Kenya-Somalia border, have made OIC's intervention all the more necessary for many of Somalia's displaced persons and refugees, she said.

The OIC is the world's second largest international organization after the UN. It includes countries across the Pan- Arabic world, stretching from East Africa to Indonesia.

 
 
 
 
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