Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy
See to the United Nations
Before the Plenary of the 59th General
Assembly, on item 39:
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian
and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations,
including special economic assistance: draft
New York, 18 January 2005
My delegation would like to express once again its
deepest condolences to the concerned countries and to add its support for those
measures intended to strengthen emergency relief, rehabilitation and
reconstruction, as well as prevention, in the wake of the Indian Ocean Tsunami
Since the very start of the emergency, His Holiness Pope John Paul the
Second has expressed his deepest sympathy. He has committed the agencies of the
Catholic Church to act in a genuine gesture of solidarity to all people without
exception in each nation touched by this enormous tragedy.
Our institutions and the Papal Representatives present in the affected
countries went into action immediately. Firstly, they gave out food and clothes
as well as sheltering the affected populations. Tragically, it has become clear
that the most affected group has been young children, of whom at least fifty
thousand were swept away, but there are also tens of thousands left orphaned.
For this reason we are placing special emphasis upon ways to bring help to
surviving children in the zones worst affected.
In cooperation with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, a very
long list of Catholic agencies is already using funds from throughout the world,
amounting to nearly five hundred million dollars, some of which is going into
emergency aid and the rest into longer term projects through our local
networks. NGOs and other faith-based organisations in the field now need to be
allowed to work directly with the populace; while the aid from multilateral
funds should be distributed equitably between the affected regions without
political, ethnic or religious bias, as well as in dialogue with the different
The extraordinary impact of the power of nature in a
radius of thousands of miles has elicited an equally extraordinary response from
the peoples and governments of the whole world in an outpouring of sympathy and
solidarity rarely seen in recent times. Such a swift and practical expression
of global solidarity is surely a sign of the fundamental decency of the peoples
of the world. It is clear that there exists - regardless of the things that
separate us - a deep sense of our shared humanity and fragility in the face of
such terrible events.
It seems clear that this is an emergency whose
aftermath is going to last through the medium and long term, and so it is to be
hoped that the solidarity of private citizens and governments alike will not die
down once the world recovers from the initial shock of the calamity.
Mr President, as well as strengthening emergency
relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction mentioned in the resolution before
this Assembly, the world’s nations should seize this opportunity and the good
will generated by the world’s peoples so as to further important humanitarian
goals on the broader agenda at this time. There is now a sense of humanitarian
momentum and we should not let it slip by. So too, we owe it to all concerned
to redouble efforts that will bring a rapid and just political solution in those
areas still suffering from conflict.
Moreover, some have expressed concern that the Tsunami
disaster might distract attention from other issues, especially the concerns of
the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and this year’s review of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is well known that twenty-five million
people throughout the world still suffer bitterly due to largely man-made wars,
disasters and mismanagement. My delegation earnestly hopes, therefore, that
this year will be one in which solidarity will be the hallmark of the political
agenda in a way that will help all nations refocus on ways to achieve the
development goals agreed upon at the start of this Millennium.
Finally, Mr President, my delegation takes this
opportunity to congratulate all those who have been so rapid and generous in
their response to the Tsunami disaster, including the Secretary-General and the
members of the agencies of this Organisation. It now falls to the United
Nations to become once again a great driving force, dedicated, courageous and
humanitarian, as it is in the best moments of its history.
Thank you, Mr President.