31 through 40

31 Helping disaster victims

When natural disasters and emergencies arise, the United Nations coordinates and mobilizes assistance to the victims. Working together with Governments, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, major aid organizations and donors, the UN provides much-needed humanitarian assistance. UN appeals raise several billion dollars a year for emergency assistance.

32 Reducing the effects of natural disasters

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has helped to spare millions of people from the calamitous effects of both natural and man-made disasters. Its early warning system, which includes thousands of surface monitors, as well as satellites, has made it possible to predict with greater accuracy weather-related disasters, has provided information on the dispersal of oil spills and chemical and nuclear leaks and has predicted long-term droughts. It has also allowed for the efficient distribution of food aid to drought-affected regions.

33 Providing tsunami relief

Within 24 hours of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004, United Nations disaster assessment and coordination experts were dispatched. The UN leapt into action to assist the survivors, distributing food to more than 1.7 million individuals, providing shelter for more than 1.1 million made homeless, providing drinking water to more than 1 million and vaccinating more than 1.2 million children against measles — all in the first six months of relief operations. The quick and effective delivery of humanitarian relief meant that no additional lives were lost due to privation after the initial devastation, and the outbreak of disease was averted.

34 Protecting the ozone layer

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have been instrumental in highlighting the damage caused to Earth’s ozone layer. As a result of a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol, Governments are phasing out chemicals that have caused the depletion of the ozone layer and replacing them with safer alternatives. This will spare millions of people from contracting skin cancer because of exposure to increased ultraviolet radiation.

35 Clearing landmines

The United Nations clears landmines in 42 countries or territories, including Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Mozambique and the Sudan. Landmines kill or maim thousands of civilians every year. The UN also teaches people how to stay out of harm's way helps victims to become self-sufficient, assist countries in destroying stockpiled landmines and advocates for full international participation in treaties related to landmines.

36 Providing food to the neediest

The World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency, reaches an average of 90 million hungry people in 80 countries every year, including most of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people. WFP food assistance is designed to meet the special needs of hungry people, especially women and children — the vulnerable majority most often affected by hunger. WFP works to break the cycle of hunger at its root by targeting the poorest and most malnourished people. School-feeding projects provide free lunches or take-home meals to nearly 20 million schoolchildren — with each meal costing just 25 U.S. cents. The agency’s logistical expertise in emergency telecommunications enables it to dispatch help quickly in the most difficult and dangerous situations. With over 90 per cent of its staff working in the field, WFP uses a global network of planes, ships, helicopters, trucks and, if needed, donkeys, camels and elephants to reach those most in need. WFP serves as an advocate for the hungry, carrying the message from the grass roots to political leaders around the world.

37 Fighting hunger

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) leads global efforts to defeat hunger. The goal of universal food security — where people everywhere have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives — is at the heart of all its work. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum, where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO also helps developing countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices in ways that conserve natural resources and improve nutrition.

38 Tackling fish stock depletion

Seventy per cent of the world’s major commercial fish stocks are exploited to their sustainable limits or beyond. FAO monitors global fisheries production and the status of wild fish stocks and works with countries to improve the management of fisheries, stamp out illegal fishing, promote responsible international fish trade and protect fragile species and environments.

39 Banning toxic chemicals

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants seeks to rid the world of some of the most dangerous chemicals ever created. Ratified by 150 countries, the Convention targets 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals that can kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause cancer and reproductive disorders and interfere with child development. Other UN conventions and action plans help to preserve biodiversity, protect endangered species, combat desertification, clean up seas and curb cross-border movements of hazardous wastes.

40 Protecting consumers’ health

To ensure the safety of food sold in the marketplace, FAO and the World Health Organization, working with Member States, have established standards for over 230 food commodities, safety limits for more than 3,000 food contaminants, and regulations on food processing, transport and storage. Standards on labelling and description seek to ensure that the consumer is not misled. More food than ever before is travelling the globe, and the United Nations works to make sure that it is safe.