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Volunteers crucial for MDGs: Roundtable in Ethiopia
12 December 2005

Addis Ababa: An official with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said scaling up voluntary action would immensely help achieve the ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Speaking at a round-table discussion held here on the theme: "Volunteerism for Development" in connection with the International Volunteer Day (IVD) marked on 5 December, UNDP Programme Advisor Joe Feeney said IVD provides an opportunity to strategically support such actions as MDGs.

In a message sent in connection with the day, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the natural disasters of the past year have highlighted the invaluable contributions of volunteers in communities.

"From the flooded streets of New Orleans to the flattened villages in Pakistan, ordinary people have risen to extraordinary challenges," Annan said. "They have volunteered their time, energy and skills to save lives and to rebuild communities," he added.

"Through their service, they have shown us the very best of humanity," the Secretary General said.

He said the active participation of states, civil society, the private sector as well as individual volunteers is imperative to make poverty history.

"On this International Volunteers Day, let us remember the large number of citizens who, day in day out, through acts of volunteerism large and small, bring hope to so many of the world's disadvantaged," Annan said.

Annan said the United Nations General Assembly later this month will consider progress in encouraging volunteer service since the International Year of Volunteers 2001.

Executive Director of Christian Relief and Development Agency (CRDA), Kebede Asrat, said volunteerism needs to be encouraged and every citizen should be involved. He said volunteerism plays a profound role to attain the MDGs.

Deputy head of Ethiopia Volunteers Department with UNDP, Selamawit Tsige, said there are 25 foreign volunteers operating in various parts of Ethiopia. About 130 national volunteers are providing their share in all states in Ethiopia in education, health and other numerous sectors.

Selamawit said about 10,000 volunteers have registered following a vacancy announcement by UNDP.