Record number of UN Volunteers served in anniversary year
NAIROBI, 26 June (UNDP)
A record number of United Nations Volunteers served development and peace initiatives around the world in 2001, the programmes 30th anniversary year, according to Involving People, its new annual report, launched in Geneva yesterday.
In all, 5,090 UN Volunteers --many of them mid-career professionals -- representing 160 nationalities served in 140 countries and territories last year. Two-thirds of UN Volunteers are from developing countries, reflecting a major commitment to South-South cooperation.
UN Volunteers mobilize communities to help improve livelihoods and living conditions. They assist those living with HIV/AIDS and contribute to bridging the digital divide by helping poor communities benefit from information and communications technology.
Working to build trust, UN Volunteers also support peacekeeping, peace-building, electoral processes and humanitarian relief. Last year, large contingents played important roles in UN missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Kosovo and Sierra Leone.
"From Peru to Papua New Guinea, UN Volunteers join local communities and institutions in mapping out their own development plans," said UNV Executive Coordinator Sharon Capeling-Alakija. "During 2001, UNV doubled its efforts to promote volunteerism as a development concept -- drawing on the strengths of thousands of skilled and dedicated volunteers on-site and on-line."
Countries sending the most UN Volunteers abroad were Italy,191; Australia 157; Philippines 148; Japan 141; United Kingdom 127; Nepal 124; and Spain 122. The countries and territories where the most UN Volunteers served were East Timor, 1,135; Yugoslavia (including Kosovo) 451; India, 256; Guatemala 179; Sierra Leone 157; and Bosnia and Herzegovina 116.
"UNV plays an increasingly pivotal role in mobilizing volunteers and promoting volunteerism," said UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown. ï¿½UN Volunteers represent development cooperation at its finest," he said. UNDP administers UN Volunteers, and the programme works through UNDP country offices around the world.
Since 1971, the volunteer arm of the UN, based in Bonn, Germany, has sent over 30,000 UN Volunteers to the field. UN Volunteers have a university education or advanced technical training as well as several years of work experience. Most carry out assignment with UN agencies, governments or civil society groups.
A major highlight of 2001 was successful completion of the UN International Year of Volunteers (IYV), for which the UN Volunteers served as focal point. Celebrated by volunteers and national IYV committees in over 120 countries, the year showcased the commitment of millions of volunteers from all walks of life contributing to global peace and development.
During the year UNV also expanded its on-line volunteering service on the Netaid.org web site http://www.netaid.org/OV). Since early 2000, NetAid, through a service managed by the UNV programme, has brought on-line volunteers and organizations in developing countries together through the largest database of on-line volunteering opportunities anywhere in the world. Last year alone, over 6,000 people offered their services as on-line volunteers on the Netaid.org web site.
For more information please contact Caroline Stiebler <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Richard Nyberg <email@example.com>, UN Volunteers.