UN Volunteers central to Timor-Leste's continued development: Sharma
25 June 2003
Bonn, Germany: In a visit to the headquarters of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Bonn, Germany, Kamalesh Sharma, the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, emphasized the need for continued support and presence of UN Volunteers in the world's newest nation.
Noting the longstanding and substantial involvement of UN Volunteers in Timor-Leste, he said: "For the people [of Timor-Leste], key defining moments, such as the elections, were supported by UN Volunteers. You were out in the districts doing the work...you were the face of the UN."
Heading the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), the successor mission to the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), the Special Representative will present his next report to the UN Security Council in October outlining strategic areas necessary to move forward peace and development in the country. Referring to the need for long-term institution-building and strengthening, he noted that one of the requirements will be human resources -- an area in which UN Volunteers could play a key role.
In addition, he said much work is needed in education and harnessing the potential of the country's youth. "We have to latch on to the youth…. many are passing through university without the excitement the rest of the world's youth experience."
In closing, Mr. Sharma spoke of the UN Volunteers he had met, highlighting their commitment, motivation and empathy in working with the people of Timor-Leste, and -- most important -- their ability to pass on their skills and expertise to others.
"I am happy to be here today at the source of so much good work," he said. "I want you to know how much we appreciate the work you are doing in our country."
Since 1999, some 3,000 UN Volunteers from more than 100 countries have supported Timor-Leste carrying out activities throughout the country with the UN Missions as well as other UN agencies. Currently, there are 270 UN Volunteers serving in the country -- 231 with UNMISET and 39 with the UN agencies -- in sectors ranging from forestry and fisheries, water and sanitation, civil engineering and health to human rights, refugee and returnee issues and judicial affairs.
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