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United Kingdom

Prince Harry's UNICEF visit reflects commitment to humanitarian aid

© UNICEF/ NYHQ2010-1253/Markisz
Prince Harry of the United Kingdom meets with UNICEF Emergency Officer June Toda on 26 June at the Emergency Operations Centre in New York. Behind them is Emergency Officer Erica Mattellone.

NEW YORK, USA, 29 June 2010 – As part of his official visit to New York this past weekend, Prince Harry of the United Kingdom visited the Emergency Operations Centre at UNICEF headquarters to see how the organization operates strategically during global crises.

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“UNICEF warmly welcomes Prince Harry to UNICEF’s Emergency Operations Centre here in New York. It’s the hub of our global emergency response,” said Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson, who joined the Prince on his 26 June stop at the centre.

“UNICEF works across the world, with partners, to provide life-saving support to children in over 200 emergencies every year,” she added. “In all emergencies, it is children that are the hardest hit. In sudden natural disasters or conflict, they are the most vulnerable.”

Monitoring hot spots

The 24-hour Operations Centre, also known as OPSCEN, monitors global security conditions and events using Google Earth and other mapping technology. It has provided critical support for UNICEF’s responses to many large-scale emergencies, from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the Lebanon conflict in 2006 to the earthquake that struck Haiti in January of this year.

© UNICEF/ NYHQ2010-1255/Markisz
During his stop at the UNICEF Emergency Operations Centre, Prince Harry (second from right) stands with (from left) Emergency Programmes Director Louis-Georges Arsenault, Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson and Nigel Woof, Chief Executive of the NGO MapAction.

During Prince Harry’s visit, OPSCEN Deputy Manager Paul Fiszman demonstrated the monitoring of two current hot spots: Kyrgyzstan and Sudan. The Prince gained a comprehensive understanding of how geospatial mapping is used to coordinate relief and rescue – and how the most vulnerable are assisted – during and after a conflict or natural disaster.

A patron of the UK charity MapAction, Prince Harry has taken a keen and active interest in how humanitarian organizations work in emergencies around the world. His visit to UNICEF reflected his support for the meeting the needs of children and families at risk.

Interest in humanitarian aid

After the briefing on mapping, Prince Harry viewed samples of the emergency supplies that UNICEF delivers to children affected by disasters, including those whose schools have been destroyed. The ‘School in a Box’, for example, is a sturdy set of equipment that contains the supplies and materials for a teacher and up to 80 students if taught in double-shift classes on 40.

The Prince's visit to UNICEF in New York came a week before his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is scheduled to address the 192-member UN General Assembly. As the head of the United Kingdom and 15 other UN Member States, the Queen will be addressing the General Assembly for just the second time since 1957.




26 June 2010: UNICEF correspondent Nina Martinek reports on Prince Harry's visit to the UNICEF Emergency Operations Centre in New York.
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