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ASEAN Ready to Respond to Disaster-hit Areas
Source: asean.org
Source Date: Friday, October 14, 2011
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government, Institution and HR Management
Created: Oct 18, 2011

Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN and ASEAN Humanitarian Assistant Coordinator

The recent spate of natural disasters have reaffirmed the need for ASEAN to remain on constant alert, and ASEAN Member States must establish the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) Centre soonest to react to the emergencies.

“ASEAN needs to able to coordinate, so as to effectively respond to the calamities,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, in his letter of condolences to the Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Dr Surin also wrote to the Defence Chiefs of these affected countries, to voice his sympathies and support for the relief teams.

Over the past two weeks, torrential rains and violent storms have wrecked havoc in several ASEAN Member States. In the Philippines, the combined destruction from Typhoons Nesat and Nalgae has claimed 102 lives, and affected more than 2 million people. In the Lao PDR, more than 30 people were killed, and nearly half a million people were hit by floods. The same weather havoc also claimed some 170 casualties in neighbouring Cambodia, and affected some 18,000 households.

The worst-hit so far is Thailand. More than 200 people have died in one of the worst floods to hit the kingdom. Another 2.6 million people had their lives disrupted by the freak weather condition. Noting the quick responses from the respective military, Dr Surin noted that “it is particularly heartening to see closer military engagement with civil society.”

“These complex measures are very much in accordance with the spirit of the 3rd ASEAN Defence Ministers Meetings (ADMM) Joint Declaration on Strengthening ASEAN Defence Establishments to Meet the Challenges of Non-Traditional Security Threats,” he added.

In his letter to Thai Foreign Minister, Dr Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Dr Surin also conveyed the readiness to deploy the ASEAN Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ERAT), to observe and do a preliminary assessment of the situation in Thailand.

ERAT will consist of four to five experts, and they are ready to be deployed in 24 hours. They will help co-ordinate ASEAN and international cooperation, for immediate relief and long term recovery.
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