Annan issues report on strengthening global, regional response in tsunami's wake

Annan issues report on strengthening global, regional response in tsunami's wake

Tsunami wreckage
Ahead of tomorrow's address to the Economic and Social Council by former United States President Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy overseeing recovery efforts from December's devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has issued his recommendations on how national, global and regional responses to natural disasters can be improved.

In a new report on strengthening emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery after the massive 26 December earthquake and tsunami, which left an arc of destruction from Thailand to the Horn of Africa, Mr. Annan called for the development and coordination of plans and services that can speed up overall response time in "sudden onset" emergencies.

"The United Nations, governments and relevant civil society groups should commit to building and re-establishing regional, national and local disaster response capacities so that the humanitarian system has immediate access to deployable resources, particularly in disaster-prone areas," he says, adding that the UN should develop a more unified field-level management structure to ensure response efforts are well coordinated and effective.

Among his other observations, Mr. Annan notes that it is now widely recognized that if there had been a regional early warning system in place in South Asia, thousands of the nearly quarter of a million people killed in the disaster could have been saved. But he adds that such a system will work only if it reaches all communities at risk and is supported by appropriate legal and institutional frameworks, as well as corresponding local warning systems.

He suggests that the UN should foster such regional frameworks in line with the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, adopted by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Japan just one month after the Indian Ocean tragedy. Hyogo calls for among other things, a global commitment to speeding up disaster response time, as well as to setting guidelines for disaster prevention and to developing people-centred early warning systems that provide timely information that is easily understandable by at-risk populations.

Mr. Annan also recommends, among other things, that the international community encourage the development of a common mechanism within the UN to track and monitor humanitarian funds and funding. He also urges the disaster response community to consolidate and disseminate the body of knowledge and lessons learned from the Indian Ocean tsunami and other recent disasters that promotes institutional learning at all levels and guides future disaster management.

When Mr. Clinton address the Council tomorrow afternoon, he will give an assessment of the tsunami recovery effort and highlight specific policy questions which need to be resolved. Following that, he will engage in a question and answer session with delegates from the Member States.