Joint UN heads' mission to Great Lakes region

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

As mentioned on Tuesday, the heads of WFP, UNICEF and UNHCR are scheduled to embark this weekend on their first joint mission to visit common operations in the Great Lakes region of Africa. James Morris, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi from tomorrow (25 February) to 2 March. We hope their unprecedented mission to this neglected region will help re-focus international attention on the suffering of millions of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees. It also symbolizes the closer cooperation and coordination between the three agencies because of mutual, integrated issues in our mandates.

They are scheduled to meet the presidents of the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, as well as donors, UN agencies and partner non-governmental organisations, and visit projects in the three countries.

In a joint press release this morning the three UN leaders urge the international community to pay more attention to the plight of people driven from their homes by attacks in eastern DRC and those who have chosen voluntarily to return home to the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi after years of exile. Their mission will seek to highlight the needs of vulnerable groups, particularly displaced people; raise donor involvement in emergency and post-conflict reconstruction; and explore how to bridge the gap between emergency relief and development in the countries. More details are available in the joint press release.