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Planting seeds

29 May 2000

Bonn, Germany: UN Volunteers served in six United Nations peace operations in 2000: East Timor, Guatemala, Haiti, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Tajikistan.

"[UN Volunteers] want to be here - to be here with the people of East Timor to help the Timorese finally reach their full independence as a sovereign nation this coming year, the International Year of Volunteers."
Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor

"When UNMIK arrived in the summer of 1999 and began setting up a completely new administration for Kosovo, we had a huge need for international people with special expertise. We called on UN Volunteers, and they answered - with skilled, committed and enthusiastic men and women… They came with energy and ideas, the most valuable skills of all when having to start from scratch as we did on this mission."
Bernard Kouchner, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo

The year 2000 saw thousands of East Timorese crossing borders to get home after post-referendum violence forced them to flee as refugees. UN Volunteers also came back as soon as possible to help sow seeds for a new nation. From fisheries to forestry, from trade to treasuries, they are playing an integral role with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). Not only do they serve across the entire territory, but they also take up duties across the whole spectrum of tasks necessary to put a country on its feet.

UNVs train border control officers to watch out for smugglers and shore up security at entry points. They help rebuild schools and health centres. They demonstrate the use of organic farming to boost yields in a territory that relies on food imports. Engineers improve roads to ease the transport of people and goods. Human rights and gender experts share their knowledge with communities and build self-esteem among groups of women. During the year, almost 640 UN Volunteers served in East Timor - one of two major peace operations moving beyond conflict into lasting, people-centred reconstruction.

Some 750 UN Volunteers took up assignments in Kosovo. Most served with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), in every region and municipality. More than 400 of these registered a million people to pave the way for municipal elections in October. Other UN Volunteers provided legal assistance and stress counselling, protected the environment, built ties among local groups and supplied administrative support in courts and prisons. One UNV served as co-director of the youth department. Yet another managed a multi-cultural centre in Mitrovica, where ethnic Serbs and Albanians struggle to reconcile. Throughout the year, UNVs worked among divided communities helping to create the trust required for peace to work in Kosovo.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)