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Former Finnish Environment and Development Cooperation Minister, Mr. Pekka Haavisto, to head the Joint UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) Task Force

Geneva\Nairobi, 29 May 1999 - After the return from Serbia and Kosovo of the UN inter-agency humanitarian mission, the Executive Director of UNEP and Acting Executive Director of Habitat, Dr. Klaus Töpfer, was briefed by Mr. Bakary Kante, staff member of UNEP and participant of this mission, with regard to the environmental situation in Kosovo and Serbia.

In the light of this report, the Executive Director underlined the importance of the Balkan Task Force on Environment and Human Settlements, which he established on 5th May in Geneva.

As a consequence of the findings in Kosovo, and especially in Serbia, Dr. Klaus Töpfer, asked Mr. Pekka Haavisto, former Environment and Development Cooperation Minister of Finland, to chair the Task Force for Environment and Human Settlements impacts of the conflict in the Balkans.

Mr. Pekka Haavisto will take on this responsibility at the beginning of June. The main aim will be to collect, evaluate and monitor the environmental situation, in cooperation with governments and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned, and particularly with the European Union and the World Bank. On the basis of that information, a prioritized action programme will be developed.

The Task Force will continue to be located and operate out of the UNEP offices in Geneva.

For more information please contact:
in Nairobi:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman and Director of CPI,
on tel:(254-2) 623292,

in Geneva:
Gertrud Attar,
tel. (4122) 917 8234, fax: 917 8024,

Friday 28 May 1999
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