The regular meeting of the UNESCWA Advisory Committee began with a word from Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy saluting the Lebanese people who “persevered during the destructive war that raged on, inflicting death and displacement.” She also saluted the governments and Arab peoples who “rushed to assist Lebanon in its plight and provided whatever they could.”
In its first meeting since the war on Lebanon, the Advisory Committee held its meeting at the Commission’s headquarters in Riad El Solh Square, Beirut. The meeting was attended by Bahraini Ambassador to Syria Wahid Mubarak Al Sayyar, Egyptian Ambassador Hussein Derar, Iraqi Ambassador Jawad Al Haeri, director of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences at the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign and Immigrant Affairs Antoine Chedid, Jordanian chargé d'affaires Mohammed Al Fayez, Yemeni chargé d'affaires Hussein Al Eryani, Omani chargé d'affaires Saeed Al Barashdi, Commercial Attaché at the Saudi Arabian embassy Faysal Al Zawawi, First Secretary at the Qatari embassy Ahmed Al Kawadri, First Secretary at the Kuwaiti embassy Mohamed Al Mutairi, and chief of the Directorate for Relations with International Organizations at the Syrian State Planning Commission Mohsen Yousef Asmandar.
The meeting was also attended by Moroccan Ambassador Ali Oumleyl, Mr. Ajankomuik Ajank, advisor to the Sudanese embassy in an observer capacity, UNESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Atef Kubursi, UNESCWA Secretary of the Commission Khaled AbdelHamid and chiefs of divisions and teams.
In her statement, Tallawy said she understood the reaction of the Lebanese last July when the UN House was attacked because they were expressing their feeling in the wake of the Qana massacre, which had been the scene of another such massacre exactly ten years ago. Tallawy said she received many calls from government officials, ministers and members of parliament condemning this act and saying they were prepared to fix what had been ruined.
Tallawy stressed the importance of the Arab support that Lebanon received on both political and humanitarian levels, calling on the ambassadors of UNESCWA member countries to work with their governments on documenting Arab assistance because “UNESCWA, for its part, wishes to highlight this on the international level and at the United Nations.” The Executive Secretary congratulated Bahrain on its presidency of the UN General Assembly, represented by Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa who is “the first Arab lady to take on such a mission since the UN was established in 1945.”
For his part, Ambassador Antoine Chedid expressed his appreciation to the United Nations in general and UNESCWA in particular for what it sustained in order to remain in Lebanon, standing by Lebanon and its people and sharing the grave risks they were being subjected to. Chedid also thanked “the brethren Arab countries that did not falter in their support of Lebanon, and offered their assistance both on the political and humanitarian levels.”
Tallawy then gave an overview of the activities organized by UNESCWA during the war, most important of which was a seminar on 12 August in Beirut examining the extent of destruction in Lebanon, identifying the basis on which to build the reconstruction process, and means of avoiding the perils of the past. UNESCWA activities also included a Consultative Meeting entitled “Proposal for Formation of an Arab Water Utilities Network” in Cairo on 4 September, a seminar on “Population, Housing and Establishment Censuses in the Context of Development" in Cairo from 30 to 31 July 2006, and participation in an August meeting of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) at UN headquarters, NY.
The Executive Secretary pointed out that UNESCWA continued to provide advisory services in the fields of statistics, international trade, environment, social development, telecommunication, and computer networks in Jordan, UAE, Oman, Syria, Qatar, Yemen, Bahrain, and Iraq. Tallawy said UNESCWA will hold and participate in several meetings, most important of which is the international conference held by the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources on Mechanisms for Clean Development on 19 September. This is in addition to an UNESCWA orientation workshop on behalf of the Bahrain Social Policy Unit in cooperation with the Bahrain Ministry of Social Affairs and an “Expert Group Meeting on the Role of Capital Markets in Economic Development” to be held in UAE this month.
Tallawy stated that UNESCWA is currently disposed to use a major part of its resources for Technical Cooperation Activities to assist Lebanon in matters necessitating technical consultation and expertise, such as fighting marine pollution caused by oil all along the Lebanese coast. She added that the Commission will be providing this technical consultation in cooperation with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Kuwaiti government. Tallawy also noted that UNESCWA will be playing a major role in coordinating regional and international assistance to Lebanon. Tallawy said that during the United Nations General Assembly, an UNESCWA report will be presented on the impact of the Israeli occupation on the lives of civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The report says that, as a result of the military operations of the Israeli army in Palestine, the arbitrary arrests, home demolitions, and sealed borders, there are 35,000 children under five years of age suffering form malnutrition, an employment rate of 23% and poverty rate of 62%.
Tallawy turned to the issues of concern to Arab countries that will be discussed at the UN General Assembly. These topics include Arab League plans to raise the Middle East issue and the urgent need to reach a just and comprehensive solution; the post of UN Secretary General, particularly since Jordan nominated Prince Zein bin Raad bin Zeid Al Hussein; and the results of the report of the Committee on UN Reform that touches on the future role of regional commissions.