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18.02.2013 - Press release
Valerie Amos, senior UN coordinator for humanitarian aid, visits Bern

Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and coordinator of emergency relief, visited Bern on 18 February. Her talks with representatives of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and with the Political Directorate focused on coordination of humanitarian efforts and exchanges about humanitarian aspects of mutual interest.

In Bern Valerie Amos met Martin Dahinden, head of the SDC, Manuel Bessler, humanitarian aid delegate and head of the SHA and ambassador Alexandre Fasel, permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva. Ms Amos heads the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), which is a priority partner of Swiss humanitarian aid.

During the visit, the discussion partners reviewed various dossiers of mutual interest. SDC head Martin Dahinden commended the efforts of the OCHA in current major crises such as Syria, Mali and the Horn of Africa. These are crises in which Switzerland is also playing an active part and in which it supports the action of the United Nations. Manuel Bessler expressed his concern about humanitarian access in these contexts and he highlighted Switzerland's efforts to find pragmatic solutions on the ground.

The question of the major role played by International Geneva in humanitarian field was also discussed. Ambassador Fasel said that in a world undergoing profound change Geneva remains a leading centre of world governance. The discussions with Ms Amos confirmed Geneva's status as an important centre of reflection and of exchange in the humanitarian field. The recent restructuring of the OCHA in Geneva will also help to improve the impact and the quality of humanitarian aid provided by the different actors on the ground.

After this meeting, Ms Amos attended a lunch together with parliamentarians and members of the Advisory Committee on International Development Cooperation at which they discussed the challenges now facing humanitarian action, and notably the need to strengthen national capacities for disaster response. In this context the question of the development of new partnerships with non-traditional actors, in particular the private sector, was discussed.


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