Humanitarian chief highlights disaster management in South-East Asia

23 March, 2012
October 2011- Southeast Asia Floods: Heavy monsoon rains and a series of tropical storms resulted in the worst flooding in Cambodia since 2000, killing over 200 people and displacing more than 46,000 families. Credit: OCHA/Andrew Pendleton
October 2011- Southeast Asia Floods: Heavy monsoon rains and a series of tropical storms resulted in the worst flooding in Cambodia since 2000, killing over 200 people and displacing more than 46,000 families. Credit: OCHA/Andrew Pendleton

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has highlighted the importance of working with South-East Asian countries to implement measures to manage and reduce the risk of disasters, which affected more than 176 million people in the region last year.

During her visit to Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, Ms. Amos met with government officials and national disaster response agencies to discuss their recent experiences in disaster management.

Thailandand Cambodia were affected last year by floods, and Ms. Amos stressed that the international community can learn from their experiences.

“I was encouraged by the response of the national authorities in Cambodia and Thailand, and I have asked if we can be part of their lessons learned process so that the international humanitarian system can improve its support in future large-scale disasters,” said Ms. Amos.

She also underlined the leading role Indonesia and Singapore have played as supporters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in disaster management.

“Indonesia and Singapore have been instrumental in driving forward an ASEAN regional agenda for disaster response to support national governments in their increasingly active and central role,” she said.  

During her tour, Ms. Amos met with senior ASEAN officials and visited the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA) in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she emphasized the importance of UN-ASEAN cooperation in responding to disasters.

“We are keen to support the new AHA centre so it can be up and running as soon as possible. We have offered our knowledge and expertise to help support its initiatives, which will ultimately ensure the most effective response when the next disaster strikes,” she said.

In 2011, there were 107 natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific, almost half of the worldwide total. Regional economic losses amounted to US$296 billion.